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Preparing for a Career Fair

Learn how to make the best out of a career fair.

Preparing to attend a career fair is important for you to be able to make the most of your experience. Career fairs can be the opportunity for you to land your next internship or full-time job! These events offer you the opportunity to learn about multiple industries at once and have personal conversations with potential employers.

Creating a personal connection is important to help you advance your career search.

Below are a few tips to help you make the best out of a career fair.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

Employers often expect you to start the initial conversation with a quick elevator pitch about why you’re walking up to their booth/table and interested in talking with them. Think about what you want employers to know about you and how you can share it.

A way to start could be:

  • “Hi! My name is [name], I’m a [school year] [major] looking for a summer internship and I’ve heard of your company and I’m excited to hear more about any opportunities you currently have available.”

A strong introduction gives a good first impression and allows the employer to cater the conversation to you & your interests.

Polish Your Resume

Employers may ask for your resume at a career fair. It’s important it is updated so they can quickly get a picture of you and see how you might be a fit for their open positions. Bring at least a few printed copies so you can share them with employers. It’s better to have extras than to run out when an employer is interested in it. Try to keep your resume to one page, making it concise and easy to read, and have an eye-catching header so they remember you following the event.

Make an Agenda

Career fairs can feel overwhelming. Review any map or preparation material provided in advance. Make a list of who you’re most interested in talking to first, so you can make sure not to miss stopping by their booth. Before speaking to anyone, take a lap around the room to get an idea of which employers are present and where their tables are located. Consider starting the career fair with a ‘practice’ table: a company that your interests align with but is not the top choice on your list. This way, you can get some nerves out and practice a conversation before speaking with a ‘higher stakes’ employer. Along with making a list of employers to talk to, take notes on why you want to talk to them and what roles they have available. You can review your notes while waiting to talk to that employer and have an intention for the conversation.

Dress Professionally

Business casual or business professional is typically the standard at career fairs. It’s important to make a good first impression. Even though you’re dressing professionally, it’s important to dress comfortably. Wear something that makes you feel confident and allows you to easily walk and stand in for a few hours. The event may provide a coat/bag check. If it does, be sure to check anything you don’t need on hand so you can easily walk around. Be sure to have a folder or padfolio to hold your resume copies and materials from employers. Also, bring your phone and have it charged so you’re ready to scan QR codes.

Take a Deep Breath

Remember career fairs are an opportunity to have conversations, and employers are excited to hear from you! Don’t be afraid to take a break during the fair. If the event space doesn’t provide specific break areas, step out of the room for a few minutes or grab a drink of water or a coffee before heading back in. Finally, remember there are job roles out there for everyone. Be confident and curious when having discussions with potential employers.

Visit Ascend’s Job Seeker Resources page to learn more about these strategies and other helpful tips.

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