On Wednesday, my university (University of Sussex) held a careers fair to recruit students of all years from Sussex and the nearby University of Brighton. I really want a job in the United Kingdom upon graduation and I hope to stay local, so I thought checking out some of the exhibitors would be beneficial.
A few days before the event, I attended an event to help prepare for the career fair that I found really helpful. We were advised on how to prepare, what questions to ask, how to dress, what to bring and more. Here are the tips I found most useful and some of my own:
- Review your CV. Most universities offer career services that will help polish up your CV in time to submit it to the exhibitors. However, bear in mind that not all exhibitors will be accepting CVs on the day of the career fair.
- Research the exhibitors beforehand. Exhibitors will likely be sorted by subject, so I wouldn’t bother wasting time in areas where you aren’t likely going to get a job. For relevant companies, I toggled around their website for what they do, current vacancies and possible graduate schemes.
- Have questions. Come prepared to ask exhibitors questions if you’re interested in their company.
- Bring your questions, your CV, a notebook, pen and water. Water because it gets hot in there and a notebook and pen to write down any information you might gather from the exhibitors.
- Dress smart casual, but not too warm. I was so cold riding my bike to the venue, but it was all worth it when I stepped inside in and it was hot. Don’t dress too warm because whatever layers you shed, you will have to carry around with you.
- Know the lay of the land so you can make a beeline for your favorite exhibitors and you’re not doing the awkward, lost penguin waddle all the unprepared students are doing.
- Arrive as soon as it starts so the exhibitors are fresh.
- Take breaks. I know the stress of thinking about my future is enough to get me going, but when you place me in a crowded, hot room with other students with the same energy and make me talk to people, it gets overwhelming. Between talking to exhibitors, I stepped out into the hallway where it was cool and quiet to have a drink of water and refocus myself for the next exhibitor.
- Write it down. The venue is likely to be loud and distracting so when you’re speaking to an exhibitor, write down anything important you hear because with all the background noise, it’s sure to leave your head in a matter of minutes.
- They want you! The last thing to remember is that the exhibitors are there because they want you to work for them. If not, they wouldn’t waste their resources and time on being at the career fair. Ask them what they can do for you as much as what you can do for them. Don’t sell yourself short!
Finally, don’t forget to smile and thank the exhibitors, give them your CV if it’s appropriate and take down their contact information if necessary.