This blog is written by Laura M., our campus ambassador from Clemson.
This past week, I attended my first career fair. A career fair can be an overwhelming experience, especially for a college student who desperately wants a job after college. I wanted to share a few tips with you so your experience can be profitable and might even help you land you a job (fingers crossed!).
- Update your resume. This may seem obvious, but I am not just talking about updating your work experience. Have someone else look over your resume for you. Ask your teachers or advisors for tips. The career center at my school had a resume blitz this week to help students prepare for the career fair. I went and they were able to help me with formatting my resume in the best way possible and gave me some helpful tips. This leads me to my second point…
- Go to your school’s career center. Most schools have a career center, or at least have career services. The career counselor who helped me answered my questions about the career fair and also gave me some tips to use when talking to representatives.
- Research the participating companies. Your school should let you know what companies will be represented at the career fair. My school put an insert in the school newspaper the week before that had a list of the companies and what majors they were looking to hire. Instead of trying to talk to all of them at the career fair, I picked a few relevant companies and researched them online to find out more about them.
- Dress professional. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I was surprised about some of the outfits I saw. Girls, stay away from short skirts and dresses. They might be ok in college, but they aren’t in the professional world. Personally, I would suggest not going more than a 2-3 inches above the knee, at least for this event. I am all for accessories, but bangles that go halfway to your elbow might not be appropriate in this case. Also, wear comfortable shoes. I didn’t and regretted it. Guys, a suit is your best bet.
- Bring a folder or portfolio. Make sure you have something to store your resume and the business cards you will get.
- Relax! Smile and do your best to carry on a normal, professional conversation with the representatives. Be yourself, well, your professional self in this case. Career fairs are an opportunity for you to present yourself as a potential job candidate, but also a time for you to have the chance to find out more about the companies you are interested in. Feel free to ask questions, that’s one of the reasons the representatives are there.
- Follow-up. Follow-up is crucial. Keep those business cards and email the representatives you spoke with. They talked to lots of students, but all of those students won’t follow-up. Make sure you do.