Career fairs provide information, opportunities for motivated students
September 6, 2016
Some of the best opportunities for students at the University of Illinois are the career fairs. Because of the University’s excellent reputation and its large presence, both here in the Midwest and around the country, there are many companies vying for students from the University to come work for them.
This means that for students looking for internships or jobs after graduation, the demand is typically pretty high, and there are many employment opportunities.
However, sometimes the supply of students can exceed the number of positions available. Employers want the best hire that they can get. Not every student can be the top of his or her field, but the career fairs give everyone an equal grounding on which to prove their worth.
I, once an ambitious freshman with delusions of grandeur, wish that I had received some insight into these career fairs so that I would have had a more successful experience when I actually attended one of them.
For example, it’s always nice to know what the dress code is before going to an event. I thought it was business casual, so as I walked out the door of my dorm, I quickly found myself walking back up to my room to change upon seeing a group of people, all wearing suits, heading over to the fair.
Everyone going to a career fair, whether it is for Engineering or Business, should wear a suit or other professional clothing. If you are one of the very few people not wearing a suit, it reflects poorly on you. In addition, all attendees should come prepared with copies of their resumes and a folder or bag of some sort.
Students should definitely go to a resume review session in order to work out the kinks in their resume and to accentuate their strengths. There is an entire art to resume writing and there are so many different resources on campus to help.
The Career Center, the library and even some of the individual colleges have resources available to students that help them improve their resume.
After the resume is ready to go, students should bring multiple copies of it to the fair to distribute among the employers that interest them. However, before handing over your resume and walking away, first make sure to network and to introduce yourself.
A great way to set yourself apart from the other applicants is to get to know the employers better by simply going up to them and talking to them. Employers love to talk about their company and it makes you seem enthusiastic when you ask questions about what they do.
Talking with representatives from the companies is also a great way to practice networking and mingling in a professional setting. In the future, these skills will benefit you in the workplace and as you interview for jobs.
If there are certain companies that will be at the career fair that you know interest you more than others, research them before attending the fair. Demonstrating your knowledge of the company with insightful questions and comments will definitely set you apart from most of the crowd.
Having the right mindset for the career fairs also plays a part in the ultimate success of your venture. Many of the career fairs are packed with people and are pretty loud because everyone is trying to talk over each other, so the atmosphere is kind of exciting.
Students should approach this experience excited to learn and to meet new people, instead of thinking of it as work or something too serious to enjoy. The key is to present your best self and to try to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Students at a large university like this one are provided with numerous resources, allowing them to get involved with clubs, take classes with professors at the top of their field and be well-prepared for future careers.
By attending career fairs to both mingle with professionals in your field and learn more about employment opportunities for the future, you are putting all the work you have done on campus to good use and helping yourself find a great job or internship.
Brooks is a sophomore in Business.