How to Prepare for a College Career Fair
It’s college fair time and we have great tips to help you make the most of these fantastic networking events which are held right on college campuses. At these events, students can network, speak with employers and fellow students and even have an opportunity to interview and land an internship right on the spot!
We had the opportunity to talk to Chaundra Daniels, director of career services at Vaughn, to learn about the benefits of attending a career fair and valuable tips to make the most of these incredible employment opportunities.
Why attend a career fair?
Career fairs offer students a variety of unique benefits that can give them a jump-start in the job search process. Industry-relevant employers come to the college fairs searching for eager young minds to join their companies in a variety capacities. It’s an opportunity for both the employer and student to interact and see if it might be good a fit from both sides. There’s literature about each company, the jobs that are available and next steps for students to take should they want to learn more or apply to certain internship and job opportunities. Students may also have the chance to have a screening or on-the-spot interview right then and there, to be considered for an immediate position, which is one of the biggest perks to attending a career fair.
Daniels explained how these career fairs are not just for seniors. “We welcome underclassmen, as well as junior and seniors, to our career fairs. It’s important to develop these relationships early on—especially for purposes of landing internships.” There are so many benefits to landing an internship during college – among them are:
- Give students a competitive edge over their peers.
- Provide hands-on experience
- Opens the door to possible full-time employment after graduation
- Provides invaluable real-world work experience, as more internships lead to more options when applying for a job—such as salary negotiation, for example
- Personal insight into whether a job is right (it’s a short-term opportunity to try something out)
How to prepare for a career fair
If you are wondering how to prepare for a career fair, imagine that it is a job interview. It’s all about bringing you’re A-game and looking your best. Remember: You’re competing against your peers for these in-demand jobs. Who are the employers going to take seriously—a student in ripped jeans and a t-shirt or one who’s dressed professionally? Daniels offers some valuable tips on how to prepare for a successful career fair experience:
- Research and prioritize employers: Do your homework, know something about the companies you are interested in, have questions prepared and listen to what the recruiters share about their opportunities. (Each Employer has a QR code on their table for you to scan and review their website and available opportunities.)
- Dress for success: Professional attire is preferred; however, clean ironed business casual attire is acceptable. Here are some tips about how to dress for a career fair.
- Bring your updated résumé: Review and update your resume ahead of time and bring at least 10 copies to the event. Employers may ask for it.
- Talk to other students: You will probably have to stand in line while waiting for your turn to talk to each employer, and you should use that time wisely. Ask other students who they’ve spoken with and what their impressions were. This might inspire you to connect with companies you wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
- Arrive early: Allow yourself enough time to speak with as many employers as you had planned, plus a few extra.
- Be courteous: You should always show courtesy and respect to every prospective employer. If it helps, think of them as if they are your manager.
- Ask questions and take notes: It’s a good idea to write down the answers to the questions you ask throughout the career fair. You should also consider making a note of any information employers give you about applying for their positions and working for their companies.
Daniels stated that when it comes to hiring, it’s always an employer’s market. “Students must remember that employers want the best of the best when hiring for a position in their company,” she said. “Landing a job is never a guarantee. It’s important to remain focused throughout the entire interview process. It’s a fight to the very end.”
Here are two nuggets of wisdom that Daniels offered to keep in mind when interviewing for a job:
- A résumé may get you an interview. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll be hired for the job.
- An interview is a conversation. This is the only time you can brag about yourself. Be clear, be succinct and always be yourself. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. It’s about seeing if it’s a good fit for both sides.
Vaughn provides the tools and resources students need for a successful career
As part of Vaughn’s commitment to the success of its students, Daniels was excited to share information about the newly revamped Career Development course that Vaughn offers. The course gives students assistance with their job and internship research, resume and cover letter development, networking and interviewing tips and more. Students leave the course prepared to conduct their job search with all the tools they need to succeed.
“I’m excited that our students have these opportunities,” Daniels said. “Vaughn had the vision to incorporate this class into its curricula. Graduates from Vaughn leave with a job, it’s as simple as that. And the Vaughn Guarantee shows the College’s commitment to students’ success.”
Vaughn’s Spring 2023 Career Fair is Thursday, March 16 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the main campus which is open to all students and alumni. With more than 250 students attending and 30+ employers, Chaundra said that the event is sure to be a big success.