Next week on January 29th, Notre Dame will host its annual Winter Career and Internship Fair in the Joyce Center. To help those who will be attending this festive evening, or any other upcoming career fair, I thought it would be good idea to offer some tips on how to work a large career event.
As with most things in life, preparation is key. The Notre Dame Winter Fair will bring 150+ employers to campus, 600+ employer representatives, and 2000+ students. This is an overwhelming number of people and one must realize the need to prepare before trying to navigate an event this size. My first piece of advice is not to bite off more than one can chew. This means finding 8-10 top firms you wish on which to focus your efforts.
8-10: There is no physical way one can visit each employer table and it is not conceivable that one would want to speak with all 150 firms. I recommend reviewing the anticipated attendee list and identifying 8-10 firms that are of most interest to you. To help you trim the list, you should evaluate the types of roles the firm is recruiting for and whether they are looking for full-time or interns.
You may be surprised that some of the firms that are attending the fair may not be looking for so-called obvious majors. For example, Ford Motor Company attended a recent fair but were not recruiting automotive engineers. Instead, they were attending the fair to recruit Finance and Accounting majors.
Another good strategy is to identify one or two firms that are new to recruiting at these events. Often these firms have a more difficult time attracting candidates and thus the competition level (and waiting lines) may be less.
Research: So you now have a list of 8-10 firms, take some time to conduct research. Visit companies’ sites, follow them on social media sites, talk to those who have worked or interned at companies on your target list. Be sure you know some basics about the firms and the position(s) they are looking to fill:
- Services/Products of the firms
- Positions looking to fill
- Desired qualifications
- Recent news about the firm and industry
- Draft 3-4 questions you wish to ask (questions should elicit information that will help you strengthen your application and your evaluation of the firm)
Conduct research and create a one page “cheat sheet” on each firm. This information will come in handy when you attend the fair.
Since you get one shot at a first impression, and you are trying to distinguish yourself from the 100+ attendees the employer will see, you want to ensure you are ready with your best pitch.
Tomorrow we will focus on working the event.