How do I make the most of a career fair? This question is a common one among those who are in college and seeking summer internships or full-time positions after graduation.
I want to take a few minutes to share my suggestions as someone who has both attended and recruited at university career fairs.
Where do you start?
- Determine what you are seeking – summer internship, co-op, full-time employment.
- Include what you are seeking near the top of your updated resume. (For more resume tips check out ASCE’s Crafting a Civil Engineering Resume)
- Research the companies that are going to attend the fair, and take notes on which booths you are interested in visiting.
- If a map of the booths is available, mark the companies you want to visit on the map to make it easier to be efficient in your route.
What do you do the day of the fair?
- Select the appropriate clothes. In general, you want to wear something business casual or business professional. Don’t wear anything that is so uncomfortable it affects your confidence (heels that are too high for you, heavy suit jackets when it is hot, etc.)
- As you approach a recruiter, introduce yourself, shake their hand, tell them what you’re seeking, and include something relevant you have learned about their company. For example, “Hi! I’m Janie Doe, and I’m looking for summer internship opportunities in structural engineering. I saw on your website that you’ve done some of the design for buildings on our campus, which is pretty cool.”
- Offer them a resume before the conversation progresses.
- Be sure to jot down the name of the person you spoke with if you feel the conversation went well. If they have business cards at the booth, be sure to take one.
What do you do after attending the fair?
- Complete any action items suggested to you by the recruiter: resume upload, filling out an online application, etc.
- Send a quick email to the company saying you spoke with so-and-so and are looking forward to the possibility of working at the company. You can attach your resume again if they don’t already have an electronic copy.
In general, the goal of a career fair is to make a good first impression while also getting a feel for the companies you might be interested in joining. Being organized and prepared can go a long way in making the Career Fair process as stress-free as possible. Best of luck in your job search!
Heidi Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE, is a site development civil engineer with about six years of collective workplace experience. She passed the PE in spring 2019 and recently became a professional engineer. Unlike many of her counterparts, she is extroverted and rarely seeks out alone time. She loves meeting new people and hearing their stories.
Aside from engineering Wallace spends a lot of her time volunteering with kids. One of her passions is childhood literacy, and she looks forward to her weekly sessions with her Reading Partners little kindergarten buddy. When we help those coming up behind us (whether in kindergarten or a young engineer), we grow each other and our communities.