One of the best ways to explore this semester is through career fairs. You may be thinking that career fairs are only for upperclassman who know what they want to do with their lives. But that’s not true! The purpose of career fairs is to give all students a chance to meet employers who are both hiring now and in the future. They can help you develop your professional voice and persona as you figure out what your future holds. Plus, more employers than you may expect are seeking freshmen and sophomores for internships. Here are some advantages of attending a career fair in your first year at CU.
Learn about different employers and available positions
Most of us are familiar with large companies that we could work for, but what about the small startups or non-profits who may have amazing opportunities? Career fairs allow you to explore all sorts of companies, big and small, and see what types of jobs are out there.
You can use career fairs to narrow down what you’d like to do and what academic programs or extracurricular activities can help you get there. Before the career fair, think of some questions to ask a recruiter if you find something interesting. 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?”
- “What do you like most about your job and working for _______?”
- “What professional organizations do you suggest a student get involved in to gain experience or knowledge about your field?”
Additionally, employers who attend CU career fairs often come back each year. If you aren’t actively seeking an internship or job now, eventually you will be. Having some employer name recognition and information on what they do can help you in your search later.
Practice sharing your experience
The more comfortable you are talking about yourself and your experiences, the more successful you will be in future internship or job searches. A great way to improve on this is to practice, and a great place to practice is at a career fair. You can practice sharing your experience in two ways: through your resume and though your elevator pitch.
Your first years of college is a good time to start your resume. Once you have a basic document in place, you can easily update it as you gain experience through extracurricular activities, internships and part-time jobs. Even if you aren’t looking for anything right now, create a resume and bring copies with you to the career fair. You never know when you’ll come across a great opportunity and you’ll want to be prepared. Review these tips for creating a memorable resume, or you can meet with a career development advisor for more help.
Your elevator pitch is a 30-second introduction that helps break the ice, and shares who you are and your goals. Start by introducing yourself with your name, year in school and area of interest. Share what you’re interested in, and ask questions. Get more tips to help you prepare your pitch.
The people at career fairs can give you feedback and insight into what they are looking for in a potential hire. This is the perfect opportunity to get a feel for what makes you relevant on your resume or in your elevator pitch.
Become comfortable attending future career fairs
Career fairs can be intimidating, but they don’t have to be! Take it one step at a time. Here’s what you need to know before attending a career fair.
- The day of the fair, you’ll check in with your BuffOne Card and get a list of the employers who are at the fair. Take a moment to look it over and mark which ones you are interested in.
- Take a lap or two around the fair and get a feel for the room. Are there any long lines? Who looks friendly? Who has cool giveaways? Whom do other students seem to be interested in?
- Next, pick your top five or six tables and go talk with the recruiters. Introduce yourself with your elevator pitch. Ask about their company and any of the questions you prepared before the fair.
- If you feel overwhelmed or tired, take a break. It is all at your pace.
Getting the feel of a career fair is important for you to feel confident. It’s common to have feelings like you don’t belong, but you can overcome that with practice. Going to a career fair for the first time is a big step, and after the second and the third fair, it will feel like just another day. By doing this in your first year or two at CU, you will learn which employers you like, how to approach the recruiters, how to stand out and how to hone your pitch. Best of all, career fairs won’t seem as intimidating!