Attending career fairs ranks among the top four ways that CU Boulder students obtain an internship or first job out of college. The atmosphere creates a foundation for successful interactions that could potentially lead to employment. But we get it—career fairs are intimidating and oftentimes, nerve-wracking.
But if your dream employer is right here on campus, wouldn’t you want to seize the moment and put your name and face in front of a recruiter? Try calming those nerves with these easy tips for tackling the career fair blues.
Practice, practice, practice
Practice what you will say to employers out loud. Often what we think we want to say doesn’t come out how we pictured in our heads. Spend time practicing what you’ll say in front of the mirror, in the car or talking to your pet or roommate. This will increase your confidence for when, in the heat of the moment, you won’t freeze up when you are talking to the employer of your dreams.
As is true with most everything, the key to feeling better at career fairs is to arrive prepared. Students who arrive with a solid résumé, a great elevator pitch, professional attire and research on the companies they want to impress will feel less anxious about the process.
There are more than 70 employers that come to career fairs and only a handful are probably hiring for positions that would interest you. Don’t feel like you need to speak with all of them. Set realistic goals and expectations for what you want to accomplish when networking. Whether it’s speaking with three employer or 15, set goals that you are most comfortable with based on your strengths and personality.
Once you’ve practiced and prepared what you will say to employers, start thinking about your nonverbal communication—such as your handshake, eye contact, smile and posture. These can say a lot about your confidence and can set the tone for how the conversation will go. Expensive research has shown that your body affects your mind, your mind affects behaviors and behaviors affects outcomes.
Watch this Ted Talk for more tips on power posing and developing positive nonverbal communication skills.
Get the nerves out of the way at the beginning for the career fair by warming up with a few smaller companies before talking to your top choices. This will help you get a feel for the questions that you might be asked from employers you most want to impress. And you never know—you might end up finding better opportunities for you at the companies you were least planning on speaking with.
Keep in mind that every recruiter you speak with was once in your shoes. Remember they are here to help start your career off on the right foot. As always, meeting with a career development advisor or attending Prepare for the Fair workshops can help you know what to expect, develop a strategy and alleviate some unnecessary stress. You got this!