How to Prepare for the Job and Internship Fair
Job fairs can be intimidating. The idea of walking up to strangers to talk about yourself and ask about open job opportunities can seem daunting. But we promise that the employers who will be at the SCD Job and Internship Fair are awesome, and they want to speak with you! We’ve compiled some tips to help you get ready before you hit the fair.
1. Create a strong resume. Include work experience, internships, work study and extracurriculars. It should be formatted in a way that is easy for employers to scan, so use key terms, active verbs and summarize with bullets. Be sure to have someone review it. When it’s ready to be printed, bring multiple copies… and email it to yourself or bring a USB, just in case!
2. Develop and practice your elevator pitch. This is a short introduction you will give to employers. It should be 30 seconds or less and include your name, program of study and anticipated graduation date. You’ll want to identify a particular skill or strength and suggest how it may benefit the employer. Finally, state your goal for meeting with them – are you looking for a job? An internship? To pick someone’s brain about the industry? Be clear so that they know how they can help you.
3. Research the employers who will be present. Prioritize whom you would like to see, and make sure you hit your top choices first. Then, be sure to stop by the other employer’s booths to say hello and practice networking. (Pro Tip: You can apply the same strategy for touring the EXPO trade show floor!)
4. Prepare to dress for success. Show employers you’re serious by presenting yourself in a professional manner. The trick is to dress one step better than you would for the job (if the job requires jeans and a long-sleeve tee, consider pressed jeans or khakis and a collared shirt). Be well groomed, and take it easy on the accessories and cologne/perfume. Remember, employers are looking for people who will positively represent their company when out in the field.
5. Plan what you’re going to bring with you. Bring a bag so you can collect business cards and swag, but keep your hands free for a handshake. Put your resumes in a folder to keep them from getting bent. Consider bringing a spare phone charger (maybe you’ll save someone’s day by letting them borrow it). And don’t forget to bring a pen!
6. Be aware of your online presence. Employers may look for you online. If you haven’t already, update or create a LinkedIn profile. Clean up your social media accounts (check for profanity, pictures from parties and other questionable posts), or set them to private. But be aware that privacy settings may not do the trick 100%, so you should still take a cruise through your profiles and tidy up, if needed!
7. Practice your handshake. The only thing worse than receiving a crummy handshake is to give one, especially since it’s part of the overall first impression you’re putting out there for an employer. The “dead fish” (limp, light, awkward) and the “knuckle cruncher” (tight, painful, also awkward) are common culprits. The best handshakes start with your right hand held straight out with your thumb pointed up toward the ceiling. Let the spot between your thumb and forefinger meet the same spot on their hand. Employ a firm (not knuckle-crushing) grip and shake once or twice, gently, from the elbow. Be sure to make great eye contact and flash a brief, warm smile.
There are tons of resources out there for how to format your resume and how to write an elevator pitch. Your school’s career services department would also be a great resource to utilize – they’re available to you, free of charge! And don’t forget, all of the companies participating in the Student Career Days Job and Internship Fair are listed here.