Managing Your Expectations:
You are responsible for making the most of a career fair. This means that you should begin with clearly defined and realistic expectations. You will not receive a job offer at the fair, but it is realistic to assume you will make a significant number of employer contacts. For most candidates, success will depend on effective follow-up after the fair and of course PREPARATION.
Prepare for the Fair:
Your 60 Second Commercial:
- Write a resume highlighting skills and experiences related to your career goal
- Locate the guidebook online and scan for employers seeking students like you; do your research
- Pull together a professional outfit, preferably a business suit (Note: this can be borrowed from a friend)
- Research attending employers on MU Career Manager
- This sales pitch will arm you with all you need to begin an intelligent and effective conversation with employers.
- Where you are now (degree, program, year in college)
- Where you have been (career-related experience, leadership experience, part-time work experience)
- Where you are going (future goals)
- What you know about the organization and how you are a good fit
- End with a question to start the conversation
"Hello. I'm Dot and I will graduate in 20XX with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication. As a student here at Marquette, I have had the chance to gain leadership and organizational skills through my involvement in the ABC Club. In addition, I have worked for two years as a server at the Annex allowing me to gain valuable customer service experience. I am seeking an internship in the field of public relations for next summer. Can you share with me any opportunities within your organization that might fit with my skills and experience?"
At the Fair:
- Locate your chosen employers on the map
- Offer your hand for a professional handshake (one shake)
- Begin the conversation with your 60 second commercial
- Ask the employer a question or two relating to your career goal
- Ask the employer for next steps. The employer may be scheduled to interview on campus in our office
After the Fair:
- Follow up with those employers who piqued your interest
- Send an e-mail or hand-written letter thanking them for their time and including a copy of your resume
- Search for postings and on-campus interviews on MU Career Manager
Things to Bring:
- Your 60 second commercial to introduce yourself, highlight your qualifications and why you are interested in the position and/or company
- Information about the organizations that you will be approaching
- Copies of your resume (25-50 depending on size of event and number of employers youíd like to talk to)
- A professional hardcover notepad portfolio and/or briefcase for resumes, company information, business cards and notes
- A smile, strong handshake and positive attitude
- Energy! Be your best and as refreshed as possible
Some employers are only collecting resumes; some may not be able to accept any resumes and may ask you to submit application materials online. Some are building/assessing an applicant pool; some are ready to fill specific vacancies. Some will expect you to express your interest by already knowing about their organization; some will view this day as a career fair/information gathering process. Most employers will expect you will follow up if you are interested. All employers expect you to be professional, willing to initiate conversation and able to highlight your strengths.
Questions To Ask:
First and foremost, questions should be natural. Be yourself. Don't rifle through your questions; maintain a flow
- What kind of entry-level positions exist within your company?
- Do you offer internships?
- If so, what percentage of interns are offered positions after graduation?
- What does your company consider the 5 most important qualities in an employee?
- What courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
- What personality traits are important to be successful at your company?
- What made you chose this company?
- How long have you been with the company?
- What goals does your company have for the next years and beyond?
- Does your company hire on a continual basis or just at certain times of the year?
- How long is the hiring process for an individual hire?
- How many employees does your company have?
- Are graduate degrees important? If so, in what areas?
- Is there a G.P.A. cut off for your new hires?
- What things have your company accomplished of which you are especially proud?
- For how many years does the entry-level employee typically stay with the company?
- What is the retention rate in the company?
- Do you expect your employees to relocate?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- Do not read directly from the above list of questions at the career fair. Be relaxed and natural.
- Itís never too early to start thinking about your career. Students in all years and all majors are encouraged to attend a career fair.
- Donít be discouraged if the recruiter canít take your resume. Legal guidelines may prohibit the employer from taking your resume. Many employers require candidates to apply on their website.
- If you attend the fair with a friend, separate and work the fair alone. Employers want to talk to you, not you and your friend. Plan a time and place to meet up after the fair.
- Follow up with the organization representative(s) you meet with. We hear from employers that many students do not do this, so itís a great way to stand out.
- Arrive at the fair as early as possible. Some employers may leave a bit early; you donít want to miss them.
- Do not bring a member of your family to the career fair. You laugh, but we have seen this!
- Career Services is here to help! Please contact our office if you have any questions.
Read the Navigating a Career Fair handout (PDF) (Word) for additional information on this topic.