When it comes to what to do at a college career fair, being prepared is one of the best steps you can take. Because you only have so much time at a career fair to sell yourself to employers, knowing what to expect and having a plan are great ways to set yourself up for success.
Whether you’re a freshman in college and preparing for your first career fair, or you’re a senior who’s had little luck at them in the past, here’s everything you should know about career fairs and what to expect from both employers and yourself.
What employers expect of students at career fairs:
This is key. Employers are there to answer questions you have and are wanting answers to. They expect you to come with questions and a positive attitude.
Some engaging questions you could ask employers during a career fair include:
- What qualities do you look for in students when hiring them for internships?
- What do you like best about working for this company?
- What makes a good intern at your company?
- What could I expect to take away from an internship at your company?
- What makes your company’s internship program stand out amongst others?
2. Background knowledge
Employers also expect you have an inclination of who they are – or at least who they are not. First impressions are key to talking with a company at a career fair – if you are clueless as to who the company is when talking to them, it shows you did not do your research ahead of time.
Show that you’re prepared by researching the employers on LinkedIn before the career fair.
The easiest way to act professional is to come prepared. Prepare for career fairs by practicing networking with professors, friends and family members, having your resume up-to-date and coming with the engaging questions you want to ask.
Another vital piece of acting professional is your body language. Introduce yourself with a handshake. Nod your head to show you’re listening. Smile often. These are simple ways to show you are engaged and really care about the information they are providing.
What to expect from employers at career fairs:
1. Companies who want to hire the best
Employers at career fairs are there to get you an internship, co-op or permanent position post-graduation. It is their goal to hire top talent to their organization. The landscape is fierce so it’s important to show that what you have to offer is competitive with your peers.
2. Associates you can relate to
Typically, employers send their go-getter associates who have been in the students’ shoes before to career fairs. These associates may not even be HR representatives or recruiters. Schneider, for example, has both business associates and alumni participating in the career fairs we attend.
This is your chance to talk with the experts first-hand. To have that connection between an employer and student is key.
3. Information about available opportunities
You can expect to learn about the companies you meet and hear about positions available. Many companies will give out business cards and flyers to students at career fairs.
Although you may be tempted to simply throw out these documents following the career fair, I strongly encourage you to hold on to them so you can follow-up with the associates you met.