As graduation inches closer and closer, the importance of finding a job before you graduate becomes more and more pressing.
Before you start pulling out your hair, remember that your school most likely offers substantial opportunities and resources for you to find a job.
A common event on most college campuses in the spring is the career fair, where dozens of prospective employers will set up their tables and wait to find the next great hire.
But, although it’s called a career fair, you’ll want to treat it like an interview — and dress like it is one.
As someone who has landed an internship and even a “real world” post-grad job from a career fair, I’ve got a few ideas on how to make your experience the best it can be.
Get there early
The earlier you get there, the better. Some companies could dip out early if they feel like they aren’t getting enough nibbles, so if you want to talk to as many companies as possible, you’ll want to get there early. If possible, get there 15 minutes early so you can adjust to your surroundings, double check your outfit and calm your nerves before it all starts.
Dress the part
You can tell who is taking this experience seriously and who isn’t just by taking a glance at his or her ensemble. For guys, this means a tie. For girls, a nice fitted suit or dress will do the trick.
One thing I forgot my first time around was to pick something that is comfortable and won’t require a whole lot of fidgeting. You’ll be constantly moving around, quickly going from sitting to standing, so you’ll want to avoid constantly adjusting your outfit every time you move.
Do your research
A list of the attending companies should be provided when you sign up for the career fair. This will most likely change at the last minute, as companies could back out the day of, but the list will stay about the same.
Make sure you narrow down which companies have the most interest to you and do your research before you even approach the company’s table. Luckily for you, we’ve got smartphones now, so if you’re not 100 percent knowledge about a company’s details, a quick Google search can help you out in a pinch.
Print out extra resumes
Even if you plan on only approaching a certain number of companies, you never know how many people will be sitting at each table. You’ll want to give each of them a copy of your resume (it’s rude not t0), which they will look over while you pitch yourself to them. It’s better to be over-prepared than run short at the last minute.
Prepare your elevator pitch
You’ll need to be able to spit out your experience, career goals and interests in a quick amount of time if you want to get noticed. These employers will be sitting there for hours listening to student after student, so you’ll want to stand out. More than likely, they won’t ask you a whole lot of questions … they might just sit you down and ask you to tell them about yourself. Don’t get caught unprepared — practice that speech ahead of time!
Remember: You’ve got home field advantage
Luckily for you, you’re more than likely at a location on your campus, which will automatically make you feel more comfortable. This is the sole opportunity in the career world where you will be comfortable with your surroundings — in regular interviews, you’ll be in their office environment (or maybe even flown out to a new, unfamiliar city), which can be stressful. Take advantage of the fact that you’re able to have that little bit of comfort!
Not a senior? No worries!
I started going to career fairs as a freshman just to network and meet employers. It helped me make connections and get more practice before career fairs later on down the road when I needed to do my best to land a job. Remember that it’s never too early to start looking … and you could even end up with an internship!