Multicultural Career Fair Recap

Untitled Suit and tie. Padfolio filled with resumes. Business cards. A positive attitude.

These are all things necessary when attending a career fair. When I decided to attend the Multicultural Career Fair here at UW-Whitewater, I had to prepare.

Luckily, this was not my first career fair, so I already knew what to expect and what to do differently than the time before.

I started the morning ensuring that I was going to be comfortable throughout the day. Having a filling breakfast, the “recommended” amount of caffeine, and enough time to get ready in the morning, set the foundation for a positive and productive experience.

I chose to wear a white dress shirt so I did not become too warm during the career fair. No company wants to hire someone drenched in sweat from walking around a room, am I right?

I researched the companies and organizations I wanted to speak to the day before the career fair, making sure I was prepared to hold a conversation with and impress the recruitment representatives.

When I arrived at the Multicultural Career Fair, the first company I wanted to talk to was MilwaukeeJobs.com. The company has an opening for a Community Partners Manager, so I immediately took an interest in speaking to them.

Background: I was a Marketing Intern for this company during the summer after my sophomore year and enjoyed my experience a lot during that time. While this is a very rare case of already having an extensive base of knowledge on the company and position, it made speaking to the company recruiter more meaningful.

Untitled1

After speaking to MilwaukeeJobs.com, my confidence rose and I was ready to move on the next employer.

I have an interest in state government, so I had to make a stop at each of the state departments and drop off a resume. Every conversation with these representatives was pleasant and went according to plan, besides one.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can only take job applications online and cannot take resumes at career fairs, in order to offer fair opportunities to all job seekers.

I was not aware of this fact and after our conversation ended, I asked if I could leave a resume and was in the motion of pulling one out of my padfolio. The representative, with a completely straight face, replies “No, sorry.”

Untitled2

I was very thrown off and it made the rest of the encounter a little awkward. They explained why they couldn’t take a resume and I completely understood.

It’s very important to research the hiring procedures of organizations like the DNR. If I had done that, I could have avoided an uncomfortable situation and left a more positive impression.

Overall, my experience from the Multicultural Career Fair was extremely positive. There’s nothing else like being surrounded by other students looking for employment in their field and professionals eager to offer amazing opportunities for career development.

Whether you’re looking for full-time employment or an internship, I would encourage all job seekers to attend career fairs in the future. If prepared properly, it’s the most effective avenue to take when locking down that next employment opportunity.

If you attended the Multicultural Career Fair, please share your experiences with us! Comment on this post or share your experiences using #WarhawksWork on either Facebook or Twitter!

Tips For Making the Most of a Career Fair

With the career fair coming up soon, here are some tips for you:

Before the Career Fair

11. Research the companies that you want to speak with. Before you go to the career fair, you should do some basic research on what the company does. This way you can spend your time telling the company representative about yourself, rather than asking them questions about what their company does.

When choosing which companies to speak with, be open minded; just because you have never heard of a company doesn’t mean that they don’t have something great to offer. Make sure that you prioritize the companies that you want to speak with, you don’t want to run out of time.

22. Prepare questions to ask employers. After you have researched which companies you want to talk to, come up with some questions that you have for them. These could be specific to positions that they have open, or more general questions about what it is like to work there. You should also come up with some general questions for companies that catch your eye at the fair that you had not already researched.

At the Career Fair

3. Attend the Career Fair alone. However, don’t push yourself. If this is your first career fair, you don’t want to discourage yourself by being uncomfortable. If you have never been to a career fair, instead of walking in and talking to someone right away, walk around the room for a little and get a feel of the environment. Once you are comfortable, start talking to an employer.

4. Treat it like an in-person interview. Proper business attire is crucial, no bold colored blazers! Make sure that you are acting professional the entire time you are in the room. The employers are always watching and if you just had a great conversation with them but then went and goofed off across the room, they may notice that and count it against you.

35. Remember that the employers are people too. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. The days at the career fair are just as long, if not longer for them. They are here to find candidates from our school, so make their trip, and your trip, worthwhile.

6. Be honest. This includes any experience you have had. Employers can sense when you’re being superficial. However, don’t be embarrassed by what experience you have. Everyone needs to start somewhere and even if you only have a little experience, you could still be a great candidate.

7. Know what makes you unique. You are unique and you have something great to offer an employer. Use this to your advantage. Employers want to know why you would be the best fit for the positions at their company. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself, this is the perfect setting for it.

8. Know what you are looking for. This could be a full-time position for after graduation, a summer internship, a part-time position, or an internship that starts right away. You should also know what you want to get out of the opportunity and center questions around that (i.e. networking, professional experience, professional or personal growth).

4

9. Keep track of who you talk to and what you talk about. Write this information down to follow up after. Make sure you have specific notes of what you talked about, i.e. the recruiter and I talked about how we both had pet goldfish when we were kids. It doesn’t have to be something career related, but you want the employer to remember who you are.

 After the Career Fair

10. Follow up. Make sure that you follow up with the employers you talk to. This could include an email, or a formal thank you letter. Just make sure that when you are following up, you reference something that you talked about when talking with the employer, this could help them remember you.

Follow up with all employers, even ones that you may not be interested in. Just because you don’t want to work for their company now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be a great resource or connection in the future.

5