Before attending the Spring Career Fair Wednesday and Thursday, students should prepare themselves to stand out to
“I think the first thing is you have to figure out is what is your goal,” Tammy Martin, career counselor for College of Engineering and Program Coordinator for the College Specialist team said.
Depending on students’ goals for the career fair, she explained, students will come up with different plans to be successful. If students attend the career fair to learn more about networking, they should focus on presenting themselves as enthusiastic and eager future applicants. If they are vying for a job or internship opportunity, however, students should present themselves as professional and be prepared to pitch themselves.
Set a schedule
Next, students need to figure out how much time they can devote to the career fair amid classes and other responsibilities. The Spring Career Fair is a two-day event from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There isn’t enough time to speak with more than 150 employers who attend, so students have to budget their time and narrow down which employers they want to talk to.
Luckily, the list of employers is available on MustangJOBS under the “Events” tab on the left-hand side. From there, students can pick which employers they want to focus on, based on personal interest, major, talents and even company location
Once students narrow the list of employers they want to meet, Martin said the next thing to do is research. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, but knowing basic information such as what the company does and where they are located goes a long way in impressing representatives at the career fair.
If a student wants to go deeper, they should research the company’s values or what the company deems important in their workforce. These can usually be found on companies “About” pages. Including these buzzwords in conversations with representatives shows students are knowledgeable and eager.
Customize your resume
Students can then tailor their resumes to the employers at the career fair. It’s extremely important that students use their research to make sure their resumes exemplify those company values.
For example, if a company values teamwork, make sure to include instances of group projects or other extracurricular events that showcase teamwork. Use these value words explicitly, too. Martin said many companies use machines to go through applicant pools with these designated keywords and some get thrown out before they even reach employers’ eyes. As a precaution, students looking to get jobs or internships with companies should submit their resumes to Career Services before the career fair.
Students should prepare their pitches. The nature of a student’s pitch will be different depending on their goal. If students are just looking to get comfortable with employers, their pitch should be aimed at expressing gratitude or admiration for the company. If students are looking for a job, their pitch should be focused on showcasing their skills.
According to Martin, a good pitch usually includes a few key things: a quick introduction, covering name, year, major and any other certifications; plans for the future; the steps taken toward the future; how you would benefit the employer then ending with a transitioning question back to the representative.
Covering each of these will create a short, meaningful and informative pitch. From there, students can naturally interact and connect with the employer.
Dress for the job you want
On the day of the career fair, students need to remember to dress the part. Students looking for an internship or open job opportunity should be dressed professionally. In addition, Martin said students should be aware that employers are already forming an opinion of them before they speak to them. Everything from their clothing to their handshake can help build a strong impression with an employer.
“Career fairs are a golden opportunity because you have the opportunity to express your enthusiasm and interest in person,” Martin said. “You’re not just words on paper or in a database.”
To get in-depth help, students are encouraged to attend one of the three Preparing for the Career Fair workshops hosted by Career Services. These workshops are on Monday from 5:10 to 6:00 in Poly Canyon Village in the Aliso Conference Room (171A), Tuesday from 11:10 a.m. to noon and Monday, April 17 from 1:10 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. — the former two in Career Services (building 124-117). For students who can’t attend a workshop, there are career fair preparation worksheets available online at www.careerservices.calpoly.edu.