This blog is written by Alison is our new campus ambassador from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York! Her concentrations are in economics and communications with a minor in digital photography. She will be graduating in May!
Within the past few years, annual college internship fairs have become increasingly popular. These events help students connect with top companies from multiple industries and attending them is an absolute must. Unfortunately, simply showing up to the event unprepared is just not enough. In the competitive environment of the professional world, it is a student’s responsibility to advocate for him or herself in order to grab hold of pivotal opportunities and job openings. Here is a list of tips to help you successfully prepare for an internship fair. These steps will not only ensure that you make a positive and lasting impression with all new contacts, but will help you transform those interactions into potential employers offering promising internships.
Preparing for the Internship Fair
- Make use of the career services at your college: Take the time to fine-tune your resume by setting up an appointment with a career counselor. Also, attending an interview workshop is always helpful.
- Find the company roster: Ask if you may have a copy of the roster listing the companies that will be at the internship fair. This is not always an option, but if it is, review the list and find the companies that interest you most.
- Conduct company background research: Research the companies that interest you and learn their philosophy, organizational structure, history and involvement in current events. This makes a significant difference!
- Order a business card: Personal business cards show a prospective company that you take yourself seriously! Staples and vista print offer great and easy online services.
- Dress to impress: This old saying holds true at an internship fair as well. Do not wait until the last minute to put together an outfit. Both woman and men should be dressed professionally in business attire.
Working the Event
- Bring your materials: You put work into perfecting your resume and creating a business card so make sure you bring many copies of each in a neat and organized portfolio.
- Tailor to each company: Engage in a unique conversation with each company you approach. Strive to show the employer that you understand what makes their company unique and demonstrate the distinctive skills that you possess that will benefit their company.
- Provide and collect contact information: Before you finish each conversation, appropriately hand a copy of your resume and business card to the employer and make sure that you get their contact information too. Thank them for their time and tell them that you look forward to further communication.
- Be wise with your time: Internship fairs are usually about two hours long which makes is important to keep moving and talking to every company that you are interested in. Conversations should not last for more than about five minutes unless it is clear that there is a potential job offer.
- Be careful about going with friends: Friends are great but they can distract you from making full use of the opportunities at hand.
Reinforcing Your New Connections
- Immediately follow up: This is very important. Send an e-mail that restates your interest in the company and your appreciation for the conversation that you had. Throw in a detail that made your conversation stand out.
- Organize all new contacts: Create an organized document that tracks the company name, contact name and information, date of contact etc.
I hope these tips have been helpful and give you confidence when entering the internship fair at your college. Throughout everything you do, do not forget to maintain a positive attitude. This is all exciting; you are taking proactive steps to better your future! Good luck!