Quick Tips to Prepare for a Career Fair
Attending a career fair is a valuable opportunity to learn about different industries, make important professional contacts, practice your interviewing skills and gain intelligence about the job market within your major and outside of it. With a little preparation and a focus on some key details, it can be a worthwhile experience.
Here are seven tips to get the most out of the day:
Learn about the companies and organizations that are attending. Visit their websites, focusing especially on those with whom you’d like to speak. Be sure you check out their jobs and internship listings, so you’ll be knowledgeable of what’s available. With so much information available online, it’s easy to come prepared.
Prepare a short list of basic questions you can ask to start a conversation. What’s the culture like? Are there training and professional development opportunities? Do you hire interns for permanent jobs? Check out this great list of questions.
You’ve probably heard it’s important to develop an “elevator pitch” and it is! An elevator pitch is a short statement you can use to introduce yourself to a recruiter and begin a conversation—“Hi, I’m Jackson. I’m a junior majoring in finance and I’m interested in the banking and investment fields.” Develop a few versions and practice before you attend the job fair and you’ll be more confident when the day comes.
First impressions are important. Unless other attire is outlined specifically, business casual is usually the best choice for a career or internship fair. Wear clothing that helps you feel comfortable and confident. And, choose appropriate shoes too, since you might be on your feet for several hours. Quick tip—it’s always better to be a bit overdressed than underdressed.
Not sure if you have the right clothes? You have options! Check out NIU’s Barsema’s Closet, which helps students look their best for job fairs, internships and presentations. The organization is located inside Barsema Hall, Room 309, and provides low-cost (typically between $1-$25) professional clothing that students can pick up on a regular basis. The Huskie Closet located inside Chick Evans Fieldhouse offers free business and casual clothing and shoes for NIU students. Check out the hours of operation and learn more.
Arrive early if you can. Bring several hard copies of your resume. Carry a notebook with your questions and information about employers you want to visit.
If you’re early in your internship or career search or intimidated by the event’s format, it’s OK! Observe other students. Be attentive. Listen to how they ask and answer questions. And, show your enthusiasm when you’re interacting with recruiters—remember, they were once where you are. Stay positive and be yourself!
Did you have a great conversation with a recruiter? Learn something interesting at a booth? Drop a handwritten note or an email to those people you met—mentioning something about your conversation will help them remember you.
The NIU Career Services Department offers a variety of resources, education and guidance to you along your career journey. From career counseling and job searches to interview preparation and networking, the team can work with you every step of the way.