Career Fair Prep – The Event

With Notre Dame ready to host it annual Winter Career and Internship Fair on January 29th, I thought it an opportune time to share advice with attendees on how to make the event a success.  In yesterday’s post, I focused on actions to take prior to the event: identifying a target list of firms and conducting research on those companies.  Today, the focus shifts to the actual event: what to expect and how to be successful.

A-B List: Now that you have researched your top eight to ten companies, create an “A” and “B” list of firms.  Which firms are you most excited about?  They go on the “A” list.  When you attend the fair, the first company you approach should be from your “B” list.  Why?

A career fair can be a stressful situation and you should allow yourself sometime to “warm-up”.  Approach a company that is less desirable and you may not feel the pressure to perform.  Also, if you are awkward in your approach, at least it was not one of your top choices.

Cheat Sheets: Have a one page cheat sheet for each company you wish to meet.  While waiting in line or preparing to go over to the company booth, pull out the sheet you created during your research. It should contain pertinent company information, details about the position they are recruiting for, and questions you would like to ask.  This last minute cram session can help you remember key facts about the firm and help you in nailing your pitch.

The Pitch:  You are up.  Approach the employer representative with a smile, make good eye contact, and offer a strong handshake.  Now it is time to make your introduction.  I recommend:

  • Core information (name, major, class year)
  • Why you are interested in the firm
  • What you can offer the employer
  • Questions you have

Hello, my name is Kevin Monahan and a I am a junior Political Science major.  It is great to see Acco recruiting as I grew up on your products throughout school (Trapper Keeper, Mead and Five Star Notebooks, Dayplanners).  I noticed Acco Brands is recruiting for a marketing intern and I know I can offer strong market research and problem solving skills (hopefully you mention skills Acco listed on the internship posting).   I do have some questions I would like to ask you about the internship…

Now it is time to ask your questions.  Your questions should be specific to the role and company.  Questions should elicit information that you can use to improve your application, prepare you for an interview, or teach you more about the company or the role.

Closing:  You have asked your questions and are ready to make your exit.  Thank the recruiter for their time and the information.  Express your strong interest in the role and ask for the recruiter for their contact information or business card:

Thank you for your time and all the information.  I believe I am ready to apply and will do so in the coming day.  Could I get your email or business card, as I would like to follow-up with you after I have applied for the marketing internship.

Some firms may be interviewing the very next day, if so be sure to make an ask for an interview:

Thank you for your time and the information about the internship.  I saw that Acco is scheduled to interview tomorrow – if that is the case I want to express  my strong interest in interviewing for the marketing internship program.  I know I can be successful at Acco in this role and I hope you consider adding me to your interview schedule.

As you leave the booth and take a few steps to provide some distance between you and the employer, take a few minutes to jot down some notes about your meeting on your cheat sheet for the company.  Now it is time to move onto the next employer.

After you visit a couple of your ‘B’ companies, move to your ‘A’ list and take care of those firms.  You want to visit with them while you and they are still fresh.  Complete the event by visiting the rest of your ‘B’ list and maybe even stopping off at a few companies that were not even on either of your lists.  Enjoy the event and engage employers in conversation – you never know where it may lead.

Tomorrow I will cover what to do after the fair and common mistakes.


About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Communications, Job Search and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Career Fair Prep – The Event

  1. Pingback: Career Fair Prep | Kevin Monahan – Career Seeker's Guide

  2. Pingback: Career Fair Prep – Post Fair Tips | Kevin Monahan – Career Seeker's Guide

  3. Pingback: Career Fair Prep – Common Mistakes | Kevin Monahan – Career Seeker's Guide

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