A College Girl’s Guide: Preparing for a Career Fair

Whether you’re looking for a job, and internship, or simply just looking to get a look at what the hiring process is like, attending a career fair is a must-do. However, it’s easy to become intimidated when it feels like your entire school is there walking around in business attire and fancy leather portfolios.

This post was initially going to include my tips for creating a game plan, chatting with recruiters (even if you’re an introvert) and rocking the interview to secure that dream job. HOWEVER, I realized that I have so much #wisdom to offer up that I’m splitting this post into 2 parts!

This part will focus on what you can do to prepare before the career fair, and next week I’ll focus on being at the career fair. Sound good? Let’s get started!
Whether you're looking for a job, and internship, or simply just looking to get a look at what the hiring process is like, attending a career fair is a must-do. But what's the best way to prepare?

Go In With A Game Plan

A few weeks before the career fair, your school will probably publish a list of all the companies attending. Take a few minutes to peruse the list. Highlight or star companies that you’re interested in speaking with. These can be companies for which you’ve already applied for an internship or a job, or even just companies who you want to learn more about.

Make sure to research diligently! Oftentimes, companies who are known for a certain field of work might be hiring different majors. For example, a chemical company might be looking to hire accountants instead of chemists at this particular career fair. Search for companies in your field, but also recognize that your skills might be useful in other sectors!

Once you have a list of companies written down, highlight each company as an “A” company or a “B” company, depending on how important this company is to you. From these groupings, you can create a game plan and know exactly which booths you want to hit. The career fair may last 4 hours, but you don’t want to be there the whole time just wandering aimlessly amid the recruiters!

I like to start off with a few “B” companies. That way, I can get my elevator pitch down (more on this later) and become more comfortable with chatting up the recruiters. After I had some great conversations, I hit up the “A” companies!

Look the Part

I’m not going to touch on business attire because I think it’s kind of boring and there are 902834 internet articles about it. I will tell you that I usually hit up LOFT for some great (but not stuffy) business pieces, and I wear super comfortable black flats from my high school orchestra days. They’re not the cutest, but they’re broken in and comfy!

(I’m going to sound like your mom, but) those stiletto pumps are cute in the store, but your feet will be killing you after 90 minutes of standing on your feet on a wood or concrete floor. Take the L and wear the flats.

Prepare Your Resume

In terms of carrying your stack of resumes around, any clean black folder will do. You can buy a nice leather portfolio with a pen and a pad of paper in it at the bookstore for $$. You can also pick up a black folder on the cheap. If you go with the folder option, make sure that you can comfortably fit a pen and a small pad of paper in it. That way, you can jot down notes after you talk to recruiters (more on this in the next post!).

Make sure to print out at least 5 more copies of your resume than you’ll think you need. You might want to talk company that wasn’t on your list. Or you might end up handing your resume to two people at the same company.

I’ve heard that printing out your resume on thicker paper can make it stand out, but I think just printer paper will do. Make sure to stick them in your folder as soon as you print so they don’t get wrinkled or bent!

A little tip I learned from my career center was to (lightly) take a pencil and write the name of each company in the top left-hand corner of each resume you plan to hand out. Doing this can be handy for two reasons –

    1. 1. If you have slightly different copies of your resume for different companies, it will help you keep them straight.
    1. 2. It shows the recruiter that you did your company research and thought about coming to their booth before the event.

Being prepared is half the battle! If you look great and have a game plan going in, you’ll be ready to sweep those recruiters off of their feet.

Master The Elevator Pitch

When you approach a recruiter, you want to immediately let them know who you are and what you’re about. The easiest way to do this is what’s called an “elevator pitch.” It’s a quick 30-second schpeel about you, your major, and why you’re qualified to work at this company.

I’m going to be honest with y’all. I THINK ELEVATOR PITCHES ARE WEIRD. It’s not super often that you meet someone for the first time and just rattle off facts about yourself. BUT. Career fairs are a bit different. The whole point is to convince the recruiter that you’re the A+ man for the job.

But how do you squeeze all of these facts into under 30 seconds? I’ve come up with a little fill-in-the-blank sample elevator pitch that you could probably turn into a Mad Libs game. To access it, all you have to do is sign up for our email list! And don’t worry, we’re not going to spam you (Old Navy and Target, cough cough).

We only send out emails once a month, plus you’ll get access to our ENTIRE LIBRARY of free goodies, including a printable healthy grocery list and blog checklist. Go go go!

(P.S. If you’ve already signed up for our email list, you already have the password! It should be the first email that you ever recived from us, if you’re searching your inbox.)

 

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With a little preparation and research, you’ll be ready to rock the career fair!

Are you planning on attending a career fair this semester? Do you already have a job or internship lined up? How did YOU survive the career fair? Sound off in the comments! Stick around for my next post on what do you when you actually get to the fair, and how to (politely!) exit a conversation with a recruiter so that you can visit as many companies as possible. And make sure to stick around on Wednesday for the first in our “Wednesday Chit-Chat” series!
  • These are great tips! I regret not taking advantage of all the career fairs during my time at school.

    Kendal // Life With Kendal

    • Thank you, Kendal! I didn’t go for my first 2 1/2 years of college because they made me so nervous, but I found them enjoyable once I actually went!

      Hannah

  • These tips are A1! I especially love the idea to write the company’s name on your resume, I’ve never thought of that before but I can totally see how it would make a big difference.

    • Thank you, Emily! I was pretty skeptical of the tip at first, but then I realized that it shows the recruiter that you at least ~thought~ about their company and coming to speak with them!

      Hannah

  • Miss ALK

    My industry isn’t one that a lot of recruiters attended career fairs for (Broadcasting), but many of my college friends did go to career fairs to make connections in their majors and industries and found them to be very useful! 🙂 These are great tips!!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    • Thank you, Annaliese! I always think it’s really interesting which industries do and don’t generally appear at career fairs!

      Hannah

  • This is such great advice girls! And may I just say: I adore your blog, layout and photos! So pretty 🙂
    xx, Theresa

    • Thank you so much, Theresa! It’s been 3 years of tweaking the website, but I think we’ve finally got it down 🙂

      Hannah

      • Looks great! And great things do take time – so pretty 🙂

  • I actually never went to a career fair in college for some reason but these are wonderful tips for that.

  • These are great tips, I never got a career day!!! this sounds so fun

    • It’s stressful for sure, but I really like getting dressed up and chatting with people!

      Hannah

  • Great tips! I don’t remember ever having a career fair in college (maybe I missed it or we just didn’t have one) but it sounds like a lot of fun!

    • They’re definitely a little intimidating at first but it’s really cool to hear about what kind of work people are doing for their companies!

      Hannah

  • Karoline J.

    Great tips! I am heading out to a few career fairs this summer and those are amaying tips!

    • I’m glad you liked them, Karoline! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Hannah

  • These are all excellent tips! When I was in college, I kept a copy of my resume in my dropbox app and when I was in a situation where whipping out my resume may have been necessary, I would email it to the person who needed it right from my phone. It also meant I had that person’s email address in case I needed to follow up! :]

    • That’s an AMAZING idea! I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to really dig through my computer to find the specific resume I’m looking for. I’m adding mine to Google Drive right now!

      Hannah

  • TheBlondeLifestyle

    Great tips!! My college’s career fair is coming up and I’m excited to implement some of these.

    • You’re gonna rock it! I’ll be posting the second article about actually being at the career fair next Monday!

      Hannah

  • I never went to any career fairs as I went to school to become a teacher some my options were pretty limited!
    -Nicholle
    http://www.nichollesophia.com

    • Yep I guess you already knew what industry you were going into 🙂

      Hannah

  • Azanique

    These are such great tips! I have to share them with my college friends.

    -xo, Azanique | http://www.lotsofsass.com

    • I’m glad you liked them! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Hannah

  • Laila

    I’ve never felt at ease about career fairs but these tips are really helpful! I think the elevator pitch is really helpful because I start to ramble very easily haha!

  • These are awesome tips! I will be passing them on to some of my friends who are still in school!

    Kristin
    The Blush Blonde

  • Logan Elizabeth Abbott

    Loving all of these! Preparing beforehand is SO important because if you come in with a game plan you’re ready from the get go to kick some butt! And then you cane take things a step further by customizing your resume and elevator pitch to the companies you’re speaking to as well!

    Logan | signedlogan.com