A necessary evil to some, career fairs can be a cause of panic, stress, and a suge of other emotions if one comes unprepared. While they can be intimidating at times, career fairs offer a multitude of opportunities to help advance your career and learn the ropes of networking, and in some cases, help you land an internship. To combat this, I’ve created a tried and true process of preparing, performing, and following up at a career fair. Let’s get started!
Preparing for the Career Fair
Review/Print Your Resume and Purchase a Padfolio
Having multiple copies of your resume to give out to recruiters will allow you to draw parallels between your experiences and what the employer’s expectations are. Career Services at UWW can help give you feedback on your resume to ensure you’re ready to go for the career fair. Contact your Career Advisor by using Navigate, calling (262) 472-1471, or making an appointment in-person in UC 129. You can also email your resume to email@example.com (please note that emailed reviews take approximately 5 – 7 business days to be completed).
Students can print copies of their resume on high-quality professional resume paper through the Information Services desk in the University Center. Email your resume to InfoDesk@uww.edu and indicate the number of copies needed and color or black and white preference. Black and white resume copies are $0.25 per side and color copies are $1.15 per side. Forms of payment include Purple Points and cash.
Ensure you purchase a business padfolio before attending the fair so you have something to put your resumes in and a place to take notes. You will likely obtain various business cards, brochures, and other informational materials throughout the fair from employers, so having a place to keep everything keeps you organized and stress-free. You can purchase UWW-branded padfolios ranging from $10-45 at the UWW Bookstore. Browse through their offerings here.
Research the Organizations You’re Interested In
More times than not, the list of employers attending the event will be posted on the career fair’s host’s website or social media before the event. It is crucial for attendees to plan ahead of time and decide what employers they intend on visiting. You want to make the most of your time and minimize the change of wandering around aimlessly. Of the companies you plan to talk to, check out their website and take notes of their hiring opportunities, core values as a company, and draft any questions you foresee asking the recruiters. Some employers may have long lines of students waiting to talk to them so ensure you’re prioritizing who you want to speak with to maximize your time.
Performing for the Career Fair
Dress for Success
Look good, feel good, do good! Be sure to show up to the career fair in business professional attire (dress pants, blouse, collared shirt, blazer, suit jackets, dress shoes, etc.). You’ll want to make a good first impression with the recruiters and prove to them you fit the part. Plan your outfit the night before so you’re ready to go for the fair!
Be a Curious Sponge
Always remember you’re there to learn about them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You don’t know what you don’t know so be curious and take it all in. Probing questions and being curious about the company shows the recruiter that you’re interested in what they have to offer and would like to continue the conversation. Don’t be passive with listening to what they tell you, be a sponge and take it all in because their notes and comments can prompt further questions and means of communication in the future.
Believe in Yourself – Growth is Uncomfortable!
At the career fair, you’re likely going to find yourself questioning if you’re qualified enough to be speaking to employers or if you have the right skills or experiences to speak on. DON’T LET THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME WIN! As cheesy as it sounds, you’ve got to believe in yourself. No one knows you better than you. Going out of your comfort zone to talk to employers is going to naturally feel uncomfortable, but you have to remember all growth is uncomfortable. I challenge you to look back and reflect on some of the prized moments of your life and I’m sure you were uneasy or had self-doubt during that time before you succeeded. Growth begins when you start being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Following Up After the Career Fair
Make Connections on LinkedIn
After you get home from the career fair, sort through all the business cards you obtained throughout the fair and start connecting with the individuals you met. When prompted with a message to send to the individual within the invitation to connect, write a brief note re-introducing yourself and stating your thanks for speaking with them that day. Additionally, emphasize your interest in the position/organization and bring up any important points or notes during your conversation together. This will help jog their memory of you amongst the various students they spoke to.
Send an Email
If there was a particular position/organization that sparked your interest that you have an email contact for, send an email of interest! Don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel, but be professional and concise, and extend thanks and gratitude for the opportunity to talk. Be sure to emphasize your interest in the position/organization and end the letter with a call to action (EX: When can we grab coffee to speak further? Would you be interested in hopping on a quick phone call to talk about next steps?). Never second guess if you’re being too straightforward with the recruiter. They like to see ambitious people who want to stand out and get noticed.
You Got This!
A career fair can be a pivotal stepping stone on your path to securing a coveted internship. By employing the strategies discussed in this blog, you can confidently navigate the bustling aisles, make meaningful connections, and stand out from the crowd. Landing an internship is about more than just handing out resumes; it’s about building relationships and showcasing your passion and skills. Your dream opportunity may be just a conversation away!