Five ways to make the most of your careers fair experience

robertIn this special Monday blog, Robert Furdui, a final year Marketing student and one of our student receptionists here in Career Development Services gives his top tips for getting the most out of visiting a careers fair:

Careers Fairs give students direct access to those who can offer jobs, courses and work experience opportunities. It is especially useful if you already have a clear idea of what you want to do but it can also expose students to new ideas and different jobs that might have been unknown before. You get the opportunity to talk directly with representatives from the employer or course provider, which no other recruitment method offers. Recruiters usually have human resources professionals and recent recruits on their stands to give you a flavour of what it would be like to be employed by them

Having attended all the fairs from 2012 onwards I have discovered a couple of tricks that might help students make the most out of their experience:

  1. Don’t just go for the companies you know – new opportunities might be just around the corner. Whilst we are all very comfortable with what we think we like, there is always something new that might trigger our interest – this is how a Marketing student (me) ended up doing a placement year in the marine industry.
  2. It’s best to go in small groups or on your own – as much as going in large groups might be a fun idea, when it comes to careers fairs going with just a couple of friends or even alone might be a better choice. As you are talking to employers, it’s easier to create a more personal rapport with them, and you also have the chance to be more memorable. Plus, you can always ask questions that you might not want to ask in front of your friends.
  3. Don’t ask for jobs – at least not straight away. You want to know more about the company, the culture and the expectations beforehand. A well phrased question about the company might give you a better chance of being remembered by employers – also taking along copies of your CV would help as well.
  4. You don’t need to dress like you are going for an interview. However this does not mean that shorts and flip-flops will do. If you are dressed casual smart, and you have a positive attitude, you are more than likely to make a difference. Remember, employers are seeing you as a prospective candidate, so they are always looking to see if you would be a good fit for the organisation.
  5. Note the names of the people you met on each stand so that you can mention them in your cover letter when you send in an application. Also, it is worthwhile taking notes of anything you might find of interest. One reason is that it’s better to have in written information that you might find useful, but also you are demonstrating good organisational skills towards perspective employers as well.

Just keep in mind that careers fairs aren’t just for finalists. They are a great way of obtaining information about different careers, companies and work experience opportunities. It’s never too early to go to a careers fair, particularly as they might give you some ideas on what extra-curricular activities to do. They can provide you with ideas on how to make the most of your summers as undergraduates, provide you with work placement opportunities and also help you kick-start your careers as a graduate.

Best of luck!

Many thanks to Robert, and we look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 2nd March at the Spring Careers Fair!