Whether you’re searching for an internship or a job after graduation, campus career fairs are a great place to start! There are steps you can take before, during and after the fair to make your search a success. With the STEM Industry Career & Internship Fair coming up on Feb. 6, here’s everything you need to know to prepare for the fair.

Before the career fair

Do your research

Log in to your Handshake account to review the list of employers who are attending the career fair. Make a list of the employers you’d like to speak with, and familiarize yourself with their products, services and recent news. Don’t have a Handshake account yet? Learn how to set up your free account.

Prepare your resume

Create a resume that highlights your skills, abilities and experience. If there are specific employers that you want to meet at the fair, make a tailored resume for each of them. Review these tips for creating a memorable resume.

Practice your elevator pitch

Practice introducing yourself with your elevator pitch. Start by sharing your name, year in school and major or area of interest. Talk about the positions you’re interested in, and some relevant skills or experiences. Get more tips to help you prepare your pitch.

Make a list of questions

Come prepared with two or three questions to ask each employer. These should be related to the company or positions you’re interested in. As a part of your research before the event, make sure your questions are insightful and not easily answered by looking at their website. Here are some sample questions that might be good to ask:

  • “How did your degree help you prepare for the position you are in now?”
  • “I read that your company just started a project doing _______. What opportunities would an intern have in this project?”
  • “What do you like most about your job and working for _______?”
  • “I am interested in following up with you about your job opening. Could you tell me the next steps in the process? And could you give me your email address so that I can follow up with you in a few days?”

Get organized

For the day of the fair, plan to bring

  • Your Buff OneCard
  • Copies of your resume
  • A padfolio or small bag (there will be no bag drop at the fair)
  • A pen and paper

Additionally, take time to consider what you will wear to the fair. You’ll want to give a good first impression! If you’re in doubt, it’s better to dress more professionally than to be too casual.

During the career fair

Introduce yourself

Walk up to a recruiter, smile and offer a firm handshake. Establish eye contact and begin your elevator pitch. Stay positive and maintain a friendly attitude as you talk with employers. You will most likely take the lead in conversations, so be sure to ask thoughtful questions. Allow yourself to have some extra time at the fair for longer conversations and wait times.

Take notes

After speaking with employers, write down a few things that you discussed. Take note of what you liked or didn’t like about the company. You’ll want to reference these notes later to recall the conversation if you’re asked to come in for an interview.

After the career fair

Follow up

If you received a business card or contact information from a company representative, send them an email. Reintroduce yourself (they will meet many students at the fair) and thank them for their time. Use your notes to recall something that you discussed or enjoyed about the conversation, and let them know you’re interested in moving to the next step in the process. If you received application instructions from an employer, be sure to follow the instructions. Even if you gave the employer a resume at the fair, you may not be considered an applicant until you officially apply.

For more tips about exploring future paths or getting ready for career fairs, meet with a career development advisor.