If you want to get a great job after graduating from college, it’s best to go right to the source.
Colleges and universities receive tuition from students in exchange for an education and better employment prospects. One of the ways they deliver on this is by hosting career events for students.
It’s never too early to start attending career fairs, informational sessions, or speaking engagements. Each of these events serves to provide information to students about companies, careers, and industries. They also establish a platform to network with business professionals of all types.
As a college student, the best-case scenario is that you come away with invaluable information and contacts. The worst-case scenario is that you show a great deal of initiative. The good news is that showing up and being presentable, attentive, and prepared is all it takes to show initiative. These are well within your control.
How to Succeed at College Career Fairs
Nail down the details
First, find out the dates, times, and locations of these events ahead of time. Your local career center should be able to help with this and any event details will probably be listed in the school’s announcements as well.
Scheduling these events will give you time to prepare yourself, including making sure you have the appropriate attire ready to go. A good rule of thumb is to wear business formal attire to career fairs or a company’s informational session. To listen to a speaker or panel, business casual will probably do if there’s no meet-and-greet portion.
Do your research
The next thing you want to do is get familiar with who you’ll be interacting with. Speakers and informational sessions will usually leave time for questions, and a great way to make a positive impression is to ask a well thought out question.
For a speaker, ask a question related to the content of the speech unless the speaker offers to discuss other topics. At an informational interview, you’re free to ask anything that will help you learn about the company.
If it’s a career fair, you’ll be speaking directly with Human Resource representatives or employees of the company. Before you get in the room, you want to know which companies you’re interested in, what they do, and how you can help them succeed.
Be a professional
Regardless of the situation, you always need to bring a padfolio with at least 5 copies of your resume and a pen and notepad inside. It’s important that you have the ability to write things down and you never know when someone will be impressed enough with you to ask for your resume.
Don’t throw your resume in everyone’s face just for the sake of it – that’s obnoxious. However, if you make a great connection with someone and are excited about the opportunity, suggest that you’d like to leave your resume with them.
Seize the moment
I think it goes without saying at this point that these opportunities are ideal for your best elevator pitch. Introduce yourself with confidence, have a purpose, and keep your business cards accessible (a card holder or your breast pocket should do the trick). You don’t want to keep them in your padfolio and risk dropping everything every time you exchange cards.
Most importantly, remember to keep your eyes on the prize. These are opportunities to gain knowledge you otherwise wouldn’t, and you should seize every chance you get to rub shoulders with people who can teach you something.
At the end of the day, you should be evaluating these companies as much as they’re evaluating you. If you’re well-dressed, prepared, and curious, what could go wrong? You’ll never regret missing an hour of studying or partying for a shot at increasing your future earning power.
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
Josh has paid off $130k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, he wants to help end the student debt crisis by helping students and young professionals make decisions that will reward them for a lifetime.