How to Win the Fall Career and Internship Fair

You are invited to the 2018 Fall Career and Internship Fair in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union Thursday, Sept. 13th.

From across the county, across the Midwest and even across town, employers are coming to meet you!    

This could be your opportunity to find an internship or a full-time job. It is also a great way to strengthen your professional communications skills.

Plan for the duration!

• Feet first. Avoid new, untested shoes. Expect lots of standing and walking on a hard surface. If you love heels, that’s your call, but after four hours, will that love turn to regret?

• Speaking of wearables … what do you wear? The general consensus is professional dress or business casual.  Definitely avoid torn jeans, sneakers, clothes with team logos or anything you work out in.

• Do wear your smile when you approach an employer, extend your hand for a warm handshake and introduce yourself with confidence. Stay positive throughout the fair, keeping in mind that you want to make a good impression with each employer you meet.

Head in the game!

• Get a good night’s rest before the day of the fair. The event might feel like a marathon of short conversations and waiting in line, so you’ll want to be fresh. Being energetic and able to engage quickly with good questions and answers is one of the easiest ways to stand out.

• If you have a busy class or work schedule earlier in the day, think about whether you will need to take a break to change clothes or arrange transportation to the fair.

• Look at the list of companies registered for the fair. Do your research to learn as much as you can about each company and organization. Decide which ones you’d really like to talk with. Rank them in order of your favorites. Plan to visit your top choices before others.

• Once you’ve chosen your preferred employers, think of three key points you’d like to share with them in your introduction. This is sometimes called an ‘elevator pitch.’

What’s your take?

• Don’t go empty-handed. Take a sturdy folder (the kind with inside pockets), a couple of pens, and note paper. If you have business cards, they make a great impression.

• After introductions, be ready with good questions. Avoid questions for which you could easily find the answers on your own. Thoughtful (not obvious) questions show genuine interest and may get you stronger consideration. Insider tip: type a list with one unique question for each of your favorite companies and review the question before you approach that table.

• Take copies of your resume (that sturdy folder is where you store your resumes). Have enough copies of your resume for your preferred companies, plus extras, in case you want to check out other employers. If you really want to stand out, try creating a tailored resume for your top choices.

Follow up!

• Ask each employer you speak with for one of their business cards. If they don’t have one, you can still ask for their contact information. This is very important. (See next bullet.)

• Remember to thank the employer for their time and the information they shared. Do this right before you walk away. Then, after the fair, send a ‘thank you’ to employers you spoke with. Insider tip: write a quick note on the back of each employer’s business card as soon as you leave their table to help you remember something they said. When you write your note, mention a piece of information they shared. 

• Want an interview? If you fall in love with a company, ask the employer when they plan to interview students they’ve met at the fair. You might say something like, “I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and I’m very interested in the opportunities you’ve told me about. Will you be doing interviews soon?”

One more thing (or two)…

• To prepare for the Career and Internship fair, plan to attend the Walter Center’s Career Fair Prep Night on Wednesday, Sept. 12th. Free food! You can also meet with a Career Coach during drop-in hours all week.

• Bonus: For more tips to getting the most out of a career fair, read here.

By Marcia Debnam
Marcia Debnam Career Coach Marcia Debnam