Making the Most of Career Fairs

Our GC Career Expo and Interview Day will be on Monday, March 5 at the Student Activities Center – Magnolia Ballroom. The Career Expo portion of the event offers open networking time to all students and alumni from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.   Pre-scheduled interviews will occur from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. with companies such as GEICO, Sherwin Williams, Peace Corps, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Waffle House, Northridge, and Bulk Chemical Services.  Most interview schedules have been filled through Career Connection; however, YMCA Camp Lakeside will schedule interviews for summer camp counselors as they talk to students during the career fair.

Job fairs, such as the Career Expo, are an excellent opportunity to meet recruiters from various companies and industries in one location. Whether you seek employment or internships, part-time or summer jobs, or just career information, preparing for a career fair is just like preparing for a job interview. So, before you go to the GC Career Expo, here are some important tips to help you succeed.

Before the Fair:

1. Research. Find out what organizations will be attending. You can see a list of participating organizations by logging in or registering in Career Connection at www.gcsu.edu/career.  Review the types of positions they are offering. Visit their company’s website and review their mission and vision statement, and any other pertinent information to help you develop a clear picture of what they are about. Use Google to search for additional information on your companies of interest.

2. Identify your skills. When reading job descriptions, be able to decipher your skills and qualifications, and how they match up with the skills needed for the position.

3. Develop open-ended questions to ask recruiters. Avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions. Sample questions you could ask:

  • What experience might I have as an intern in your organization?
  • What skills do you look for in a candidate?
  • What type of previous work experiences do you look for in candidates?
  • When is the best time to apply for an internship?
  • What are typical entry-level positions for someone with my major, skills and experience?
  • Word of Advice:  Never ask them, “What do you have for my major?”  Instead, be able to tell the recruiter how the skills you have from your major will benefit the company.

4. Make copies of your resume using resume paper. Also, bring extra copies just in case there are companies who may have signed up to attend at the last minute. Visit the Career Center to have your resume reviewed by our friendly staff.

5. Develop your 30 second introduction speech. It should include identifiable information about yourself such as your name, major and/or career interests, and class year.  It should also include your knowledge of the company and how your skills and background matches the company’s needs. It might look like, “Hello, my name is Amy Dixon, a junior marketing major at Georgia College. I am looking for a summer internship and I read your website that your organization has an internship program in your marketing department, and I’ve done some project work that I believe gave me skills related to the internship work.  What skills do you seek in a potential intern?”

6. Choose your professional attire and accessories. Be sure your shoes are polished and clothes are pressed and clean. Professional accessories like a portfolio pad are good for carrying your resumes, notepad, and a pen.

During the Fair:

  1. Gauge the room. Entering a career fair can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating; so, to ease your nerves, walk around the room. Most career fairs will provide you with a locator map. Highlight your top companies on the map.
  2. Watch your body language and mannerisms. When you approach the recruiter, give him/her a firm handshake and make direct eye contact. Stand up straight, speak up and speak clearly. Don’t forget to smile.
  3. Inquire about the company’s recruitment process. Ask about open positions that you researched through their website, the anticipated time frame for the application process, and any other questions you have regarding employment. Feel free to ask any questions you have prepared regarding the organization. Ask the recruiter if you can contact him/her after the fair to follow up. Don’t forget to take notes!
  4. Gather information, business cards, and promotional materials at each booth. Sometimes companies have goodies such as pens and notepads.  However, be respectful and take materials once you have talked to the company about opportunities.
  5. Have an open mind. You may have your list of ten companies you want to talk to at the event, but, talk to other recruiters who may not be busy. You may be surprised to learn about their opportunities. At the very least, you can continue practicing the art of initiating conversations.
  6. Remember to network. Career fairs are all about networking. Naturally, you will connect with recruiters, but you can also network with fellow job seekers concerning job leads and companies. The more you talk to others about your job search, the bigger and stronger your network becomes.

After the Fair:

  1. Reflect. Assess your experience. How well did you interact with the recruiters and what were the results? Is there anything you could have done differently? Make notes so you can be prepared for the next career fair.
  2. Send a thank you note. Within a week, send a thank you note via email or mail to the recruiter. Reiterate your interest in the company and state you will follow up with a phone call. You can also enclose a cover letter and a copy of your resume.
  3. Check Career Connection at www.gcsu.edu/career about follow-up opportunities.  The company might post a job on Career Connection or set-up a campus interview schedule.

For more information on career fair preparation or other career development topics, schedule an appointment with a career advisor at the Career Center in 132 Lanier Hall or call 445-5384.

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