We know that many students are nervous about attending career fairs. How to get a conversation going with a company representative? What do they expect? How much research should you undertake in advance?
Before a career fair
- Who are the companies? Check out the list over attending companies and do thorough research on 2-4 companies that you find particularly interesting. This research can include reading the job adverts they’re bringing for the fair and reading about them on their webpage as well as their social media. You can also do a quick Google search on them – maybe they’ve recently been in the news?
- Update your profile at SDU Job Bank and LinedIn. Some of the companies look up students’ profiles both before and after the fair.
- Set a goal for your participation in the career fair. What should you have done or achieved when the fair is over? Set a goal for yourself and plan how to achieve it. A goal could be to talk to at least three companies.
At a career fair
- How to start a conversation: Start off with a short presentation of yourself, where you highlight those of your skills and qualifications that are most relevant to the company you’re talking to. Example: “Hi, my name is X. I study Y and I am particularly interested in Z – and I think you’re an interesting company because …”
- During the conversation: Be curious and ask questions, especially in the beginning of the conversation. Learn something about them instead of just talking about yourself. That way you will also get a better idea of what to address and high light when they ask you questions.
- During the conversation: Let your motivation and interests shine through! Let them feel that you find them interesting. You can do that by telling them directly why they caught your interest. But you can also express it by asking some good questions that demonstrate that you’ve done your research.
- During the conversation: Instead of telling them about your education, tell them about those of your skills and qualifications that are relevant to the company you’re talking to. Don’t limit yourself to tell about your educational qualifications. Include your personal skills and skills you’ve obtained through internships, volunteer work and student jobs.
- At the end of the conversation: Always end the conversation by saying properly goodbye. If you’ve agreed to follow up, then make sure to underline your intention of following up. Example: “Thank you so much for an interesting talk. I will contact X during this week.”
Examples of questions you can ask the company representatives
- What does a typical day at work look like at your company?
- What is the best part of working at your company?
- What does it take to become a success at your company during the first 6 months of employment?
- What kind of qualifications and skills do the employees at your company have?
- What kind of qualifications and skills do you expect that you’re going to need at your company in the coming years?
- What are the most important qualifications and skills the last person you hired had?
- What is your company’s greatest strength compared to your competitors’ strengths?
- What is the biggest challenge at your company right now?
In addition to the above listed questions, it’s also a great idea to ask about some of the things you’ve found out during your research. When you ask about things you’ve read about at their webpage and elsewhere, you show them that you’ve done your research and thereby indirectly that you’re thorough and motivated.
After the career fair – remember to follow up
- Follow up. Remember to follow up if you’ve have said you would contact someone or apply for a job or internship.
- Connect on LinkedIn. Connect with the people you’ve met during the fair. When connecting, it’s always a good idea to write a short message to the person you’re connecting with: “Hi X. We had an interesting conversation at the career fair, and I would like to stay connected here at LinkedIn. Best regards, Y.”
- Reflect and evaluate. Spend 5-10 minutes reflecting what you got out of your participation in the career fair. Did you achieve the goals you set for your participation? Why / why not? Was your preparation and research sufficient? What can you do differently next time you attend a career fair? Write down your reflections – that way you can reread them before attending the next career fair.