Posts tagged ‘Career Fairs’

April 4, 2011

Are you getting the most out of a career fair?

by Scott Roehl

A couple of times during the year I will usually find myself at a university or college participating in a career fair on behalf of CMA. For us, it is important that we attend these fairs as it provides opportunities to connect with students who want to learn more about the designation or have specific questions to clarify.

University & College career fairs serve an important purpose in bringing together a diverse range of industries, companies and associations to talk with students. One of the driving forces of student attendance is the interest in finding summer work or even in taking a step towards securing employment after graduation. These fairs also serve as an important source of information for other opportunities that exist after graduation (ie. the CMA designation).

I have been thinking about the whole career fair concept over the last couple of months both as a company rep and back when I attended as a student (wow does that make me feel a little old). Did I maximize my time and effort at the career fairs? Do students get the most out of career fairs? Based on my observations at the last couple of career fairs, some students could be doing more to get the most of their experience.

I’m no expert in this regard, but here are some thoughts and tips to consider:

Create an action plan. Prior to the career fair, take a bit of time to research who is going to be attending and then note who you will target specifically for a visit. This does not preclude you from visiting any of the other booths, but does give you more of a purpose in attending so you can maximize your time in being there.

Dress for success. I’m not saying you have to come dressed in a three-piece suit or your Sunday best, but putting some effort in to your attire can certainly make you stand out amongst the crowd.

Be prepared to talk about yourself and interests. Make sure you are comfortable with being able to provide a quick summary of yourself including goals and interests. While you might think it is just quick conversation that is occurring, the representative may very well be treating it is an informal interview.

Bring copies of your resume along. I realize we live in the digital age with hyper-connectivity the norm, but a good old paper copy of your resume to hand over at the right moment could make the difference in opening that next door.

Do you have a business card? This is a question that is often asked by students to the company representative. But do you have one to give? Make yourself stand out and invest in some inexpensive business cards. This gives the other person the means to follow-up with you after the career fair.

Follow up! If you collect any business cards or have a conversation with company representatives, make sure to follow-up with them after the event. Most students don’t which is a shame because sometimes opportunities are being missed. Whether it is a follow-up on a particular job opportunity or simply to build a connection with someone in the industry, make sure to take time to follow-up.