College career fairs can be so intimidating and nerve-racking. There is so much pressure when it comes to attending career fairs because it’s your time to make a first impression and connect with a company you want to work for.
My college has a huge career fair in the fall and spring semesters. Over the past few years I’ve gone to a couple of them, but I never had the courage to approach any of the reps. I got dressed up, printed my resumes, and walked around just taking it all in. I wasn’t looking for a job or internship at the time so it was okay that I didn’t talk to anyone.
I’m glad I did this because I was able to get an understanding of the environment before I had to actually talk to anyone for real. Getting an understanding of the environment and pace of the event really helped me feel less anxious when it came time for me to go and talk to reps of the companies.
If you are a freshman I highly recommend you go to the career fair to get a feel for the environment before it comes time for you to go in hopes of getting an interview for an internship or job.
It’s my senior year and for one of my classes we had to go to the career fair as a part of our grade. I’m so glad I was forced to go to get a grade because it made me get out of my comfort zone and take part in the event.
Today I’m going to be sharing some of the things I did to prepare for the career fair. Preparation is so important because if you are prepared then you won’t be nervous.
1. Get your resume reviewed
Make sure your resume is the best that it can be before you go to a career fair. You want to make sure that your resume will stand out amongst others.
Set up a meeting with a professor, advisor, or someone that has experience and expertise in this area. My college has a career development center where students can go for help with their resume (and anything else that has to do with career development and success – hence the name).
If you’re in college you should definitely have a resume. If you don’t then it’s time to make one. Your resume should be one page, unless you can entirely fill up 2 pages. It’s unlikely that this is the case so aim for one full page packed with all the great things you’ve done and accomplished.
2. Look up what companies will be there ahead of time
It’s so important to look at what companies will be at a career fair before you go. Find out where your University has a list of these companies so you can pick which booths you want to go to.
My university uses Handshake to post information like this. I love this new software that they are using. It makes everything so streamlined and easy to find important information.
On Handshake there is a list of companies, what booth they will be at, a description of the company, and what positions they have available. This made it really easy for me to plan exactly what companies would be there and what they are looking for.
I highly recommend making a list of companies that you want to talk to on the day of the career fair. And its a huge bonus if you know what they are looking for so you can tailor your resume for specific companies.
3. Do your research on the companies you plan on talking to
This is more important for interviews, but still important for career fairs as well! Doing just 10 minutes of research on a company that you plan on talking to can make it so you set yourself apart from others.
When you are talking to reps they might ask you why you see yourself as a good fit for their company. If you do your research ahead of time then you’ll know things like their values and company culture so you can incorporate this into your answer.
For example, if a company asks you why you think you’d fit in well and you know one of their company values is trustworthiness you can answer with something like, “I would fit in well because I’m a trustworthy and loyal person and I know I have the skills and values that align with your company culture”.
Do your research and stand out amongst others!
4. Know where the career fair is being held
This sounds obvious, but just make sure you know where it is going to be, how to get there, and how long it takes to get there. I would double check the location the day of as well to make sure it didn’t change.
Plan ahead of time how you will be getting there. Ladies, since we have to wear heels consider taking a Lyft or Uber, or driving so you aren’t in pain from the walk there.
If you are driving, know where you will be parking and have a back up place. You don’t want to be driving in circles trying to find a place to park! Get there with time to compose yourself, make sure you are ready to head in with a clear mind and smile!
These things seem so simple and I almost hesitate to add this, but I want to just so I cover everything. Maybe I’m just a super planner, but it eases my mind and makes things easier.
5. Pick out what you are wearing before the day of
Have an outfit picked out days before the career fair. The way you dress for a career fair is huge. You don’t want to be scrambling to find an outfit to wear hours before.
Just as a general piece of college advice, I would have a go to business professional outfit for the spring and fall. This is something you should always have with you at your dorm or apartment. You never know when something will come where you’ll need an business professional outfit.
I personally went home to raid my moms closet and found all of her business clothes from when she was a young professional in the business world. Luckily it fit me so I’m set with business clothes for a while!
If you don’t have money to buy something special for this, ask your friends or family if they have something you can borrow. Also, see if your university has any resources. My college has something called “Career Closet” where they have a bunch of business professional clothes that students can borrow. I think this is amazing and such a great resource for students!
I hope these tips help you prepare for your career fair! On campus career fairs are a great opportunity for you to hand your resume out to the reps of companies that you are interested in working for.
Always remember to not be too nervous in these situations. Everyone is human. We are all always learning. We all make mistakes. At the end of the day there is nothing to be too stressed over, be confident because you got this!!