Making the Most of the Career Fair

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Do your homework:
• Explore the Career Fair’s website for format and participant details. For CCE Fairs, do your research here.
• Identify organizations of interest and research them, including a review of their career pages. Write down questions that you can ask at the fair.
• Write your introduction or pitch – What do you want the employer to remember about you?

  • EXAMPLE: For a student interested in interning with The Community News, a local newspaper seeking summer journalism interns, below is a strong introduction that outlines key experiences and skill sets that relate to the position. Also check out the 15 second pitch podcast on CCE’s web site for more information on creating yours.
    “Good morning! My name is Anne Columbia and I am a sophomore majoring in history. I am editor of the university’s student-run blog, where I pitch ideas and assign articles. Since I started work as editor, the blog has increased its visitor ship by 10 percent. In addition, I am also involved in the Morningside Heights community, tutoring elementary school students in English and assisting a local nonprofit in developing an e-newsletter. I am very interested in the summer journalism internship with The Community News, which I read regularly and think does a great job at covering local issues. I believe that my writing and editing skills as well as my demonstrated involvement in the community will be a good fit for the position. Can you tell me more about the internship?”

Look employable:
• Dress the part: See CCE’s Professional Image tip sheet. Career fairs have dress codes and often will not allow sneakers or jeans. Always check the fair’s Web site in advance.
• Borrow a suit from CCE’s Clothing Closet.
• A professional portfolio or folder to keep your materials organized.
• Many copies of your resume to hand to employers (upon request), printed on resume stock paper.
• A list of questions and quick pointers about each organization. Demonstrate your research! 
• A pen and paper to take notes about the employers your meet with.

Arrive early:
Check the room set up, get a directory of attendees, plan your approach, check your appearance, and silence your phone!
Meet the employers:
Shake the employer’s hand, smile, and clearly state your name. If there are no long lines of people, aim for a deeper conversation, and speak about your interest in the organization and related skills/experiences. Leave a copy of your resume (if being collected) and (if a job/internship is open) ask about it. Thank the recruiter, smile, and ask for his or her business card. Pick up any information on the organization. If there are very long lines, listen to conversations ahead of you and try to get contact information so that you can follow up with the employer later, or try to stop by at a different time. 
Take breaks:
After you’ve met with one employer, step away from the area to reflect and jot down notes to help you remember what was discussed. Look over your research and prepare for the next employer.

Send Thank You Notes/Additional Information within 24 hours:
Refer to your notes about each employer and follow up on any information or action requested. Also, email thank you notes that reference your conversation to jog the employer’s memory about you and ask any follow up questions. See CCE's tip sheet on writing thank you letters. If you ask a question and don’t hear back from the recruiter, it is appropriate to send a follow-up email after two weeks.
Track Contact Information:
The further you go in your professional life, the more contacts you will make. Start organizing these contacts immediately in a system that works for you. Many students use Excel spreadsheets that include names, emails, where the interaction took place, last date of contact, and notes. You can also try to connect with them using LinkedIn, but be sure to individualize your request.

*For more information on making the most of a career fair, check out CCE's webshop.