Making Career Fairs work for you


By Claire Hettinger

Before I sat down to write this article, I read through some of the information provided by the University for attaining success at a career fair, and my stomach dropped. Like, actually, it fell down and left me feeling shaken and sweaty. Trying to find a job is terrorizing, especially in today’s market, where finding and keeping a job isn’t easy and student loan interest rates are steep.

It is an intimidating process, there is no doubt about it. The future of adulthood is coming closer all the time, and convincing important companies that you are worthy of their positions is a difficult and competitive process. Selling yourself is never easy, but especially so if you don’t believe it. The best way to go into an interaction with a future employer is with the attitude that they would be lucky to hire you. Never the other way around. You have to believe in yourself, because you better believe that strangers bombarded with almost identical resumes are not going to.

Why you should go to a career fair?

The best reason to go to career fair is to find an internship or a job, but for those of us who are intimidated by this process this may not seem like reason enough. Another reason to go to career fair, then, is for practice. It will only get easier, so that eventually talking to strangers about why they should give you a job isn’t an unfathomable situation. This process shouldn’t leave us shaking in our boots.

How do you get into the right mindset?

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Everyone tells us we absolutely have to stand out from the crowd, but I’ve found that nobody ever really tells you how to actually do it. The advice is always the same: Speak confidently, dress appropriately and ask questions. But these alone don’t guarantee success. You have to convince these strangers that you are the absolute best choice for whatever position they have to offer. Recognize that you have a completely unique set of skills that no employer has seen before and this is the opportunity to tell them all about it.

Also, I know it sounds so cheesy to just “be confident,” but really what other choices are there? These employers are all seeing students from the University who’ve taken the same classes and had the same opportunities. Be different from them by holding your own and emphasizing on the experiences that make you unique (past internships, clubs or jobs) and be prepared to show what you’ve learned from them.

What should you be looking for?

It means, that you, the student and attendee of the career fair, have to make the career fair work for you. This is your opportunity to meet and greet different companies and see what they have to offer you. This isn’t about finding a job and trying to impress all sorts of people. It is about letting these different companies impress YOU and allowing them this opportunity to show you why you should apply for their internships and jobs. Ask them for specific information about an opportunity that will provide a unique and valuable experience for you. You shouldn’t let yourself believe it is the other way around.

All in all, it is important to show employers that you are desirable, that you are someone they want to woo and impress, and that they would be lucky to have you decide to work for them. From my experience, this is what makes people stand out. And how is anyone supposed to know how valuable you are, if you don’t show them?

But really, after you convince yourself that you are the perfect person for the job, the representatives will be hard pressed to disagree. These career fairs are hosted for the students so let’s make them work for us. Let’s go find a job.

Claire is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].