Published: Sept. 18, 2023

Student at just in time career fairAttending campus career fairs can be beneficial for graduate students. Whether you’re searching for a job or internship, exploring companies or looking to network, career fairs offer many opportunities—no matter your program or area of study. 

This semester, career fairs will happen both on campus and virtually on Handshake. Whether you attend an in-person or virtual fair this semester, there are steps you can take to help you make a great first impression. Here are some tips for making the most of the career events as a graduate student. 

Save the date 

Check the schedule of career fairs for the fall semester and sign up to attend on Handshake. If you don’t have a Handshake account yet, follow these steps to set up your free profile. 

Next, review the list of employers who will be attending and make a list of those you’d be interested in meeting. The list of companies and recruiter schedules are published ahead of time and updated regularly leading up to the fair.  

For virtual career fairs, there are two options for scheduling. You can attend general information sessions or sign up for short one-on-one meetings with recruiters. General sessions allow for attendees to receive information about the company and the types of positions that they are looking to fill. Individual meetings offer a one-on-one opportunity to share more about yourself and your career goals. Review these instructions to sign up for and manage virtual career fair sessions

Update your resume and Handshake profile 

Make sure you have a resume that highlights your skills, abilities and experience. If there are specific employers that you plan to chat with at the career fair, make a variation of your resume that is tailored to each employer. Review these tips for creating an industry resume. 

Graduate students with completed Handshake profiles have a better chance of meeting one-on-one with employers at virtual careers fairs. Additionally, make sure your profile details, particularly your qualifications and GPA, are on the public setting for employers to see.  

Prepare for your conversations 

Before the fair, prepare two or three questions to ask each employer. These should be related to the company or positions you’re interested in. Research the company ahead of time to ensure your questions are insightful and not easily answered by looking at their website.  

Have a notebook and pen with you. After speaking with recruiters, 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 schedule an interview. 

Attend a Prepare for the Fair workshop 

For more career fair tips, attend the upcoming virtual Prepare for the Fair workshop for graduate students and postdocs on Wednesday, Sept. 27 from noon to 1 p.m. Learn more about navigating career fairs and other valuable information to help you ready your resume for the recruiters you speak to.