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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Student Success

Career Fair Prep

A career fair can be a great opportunity for you to get information, make connections, practice networking, and of course – look for jobs! Employers also value the opportunity, and dedicate some of their limited resources coming to campus to build their brand, distribute information, and find potential candidates. To make the most of the opportunity, consider the following tips on what you can do before, during, and after the fair.

The Basics

Prepare your résumé.
This is what employers will be judging you on once the Career Fair is over.

Do your homework.
Knowing what a company is all about will give you a head start with the recruiter. It saves time and makes a better impression.

Dress for success.
A well-groomed professional appearance will go a long way.

Bring a firm hand shake and a smile.
Make eye contact and show them your interest through your positive body language, firm hand shake, and engaging smile!

Ask questions.
Be enthusiastic and inquisitive about the company. Get a feel for the company to know if you share thoughts and ideas on what makes a good work place.

Be prepared to talk about you.
Emphasize your GPA, extracurricular activities, engineering projects and internship experience.

Don’t be greedy.
Other students are waiting for a chance to speak with recruiters too. Be respectful of the time you spend talking when others are waiting.

Before the Fair

A little preparation can go a long way to making a good impression. Employers can easily tell who has done their homework before the fair!

Start with yourself.
Think about all the areas of your intended career field that have always intrigued or mystified you. Write a list of keywords and topics that you can use in your introduction to describe your interests and start a conversation with representatives.

See who’s coming.
Make a list of all the participants you want to speak to. If time is a factor rank the participants before you go.

Do your research!
Go to company websites and see if some of your questions are answered there. By doing this you will appear more knowledgeable and interested when you visit a booth. Of course, your research might also lead you to dropping this participant from your list.

Update your résumé.
Review your current résumé to ensure that it includes the best mix of education (courses completed, current courses) and experience (paid and unpaid) for areas you’re interested in.

At the Fair

  • Arrive early. Be there when recruiters are fresh and attentive. Arrive before the majority of other students get there.
  • Take time to target organizations that interest you. But, also keep an open mind and consider companies you are not familiar with – there are great opportunities everywhere. If a table is less crowded, you will have the opportunity to converse longer with the representative.
  • Be patient and anticipate crowds and lines. Try visiting the tables with fewer crowds first.
  • Scan employers’ handouts. Instead of just getting in line, approach the table from the side to quietly pick up materials to review. Step back far enough to be able to listen to and observe recruiters speaking to other students. Determine if your elevator pitch needs to be adjusted.
  • Take initiative and introduce yourself with a smile and handshake.
  • Give your resume to the representative. Launch into your elevator pitch. Ask questions from the list you prepared.
  • Ask about the application procedure.
  • Get a business card or a contact name from every person you meet. Write interesting facts, notes or additional contact names on the back of the card. Use this information to follow up after the fair.
  • Many company tables have “freebies”, such as pens, candy, and toys. Be courteous and cautious when taking these items. If you take any candy or gum, save it for after the fair.
  • Don’t play with the stress balls or other toys during the fair. Avoid taking every free item you see. It is noticeable by recruiters and staff when a student seems to be attending the fair just for free items.
  • If you are an international student don’t say that you need a job to stay in the US. Address the employer professionally and connect your skills to the needs of the company.

Questions to Ask

  • Ask well thought out questions based on your research. Some questions may include the following.
  • What do you like and dislike about your job and working for your company?
  • What do you look for in candidates?
  • What are the changes and trends happening in the workplace and in the field?
  • What type of training is available for entry-level jobs?
  • What types of assignments are given?
  • What key skills/experiences are highly desirable?
  • What non-academic skills and experiences have been helpful in their career and which ones do they look for in a new hire?
  • Do you have any tips for success in this field?

Note: Do not ask about salary or benefits.

After the Fair

  • Follow-up! Don’t assume you’ve locked up the job! Employers are speaking with hundreds of students, so help yourself stand out.
  • Write a thank you note to each representative you spoke with. Include another resume and additional information, if requested.
  • Continue to research the companies or organizations you met at the fair.
  • Work with the Voiland College Internship & Career Services office on interview skills so that you are ready for the next step.

Contact the Internships and Career Services Office

Location: Dana 140 Phone: (509) 335-8726 E-mail: Career Coaching Drop-in Hours: 3:00 – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday By Appointment:
Mailing Address: Washington State University Voiland College Internships and Career Services PO Box 642718 305 NE Spokane St., Dana Hall, Room 140 Pullman, WA 99164-2718