Career fairs are a great way to advance your career planning- whether you are ready to look for a job or internship or are simply exploring different majors and jobs associated with various industries. If you've never been to a career fair before, the tips below can help you navigate the event like a pro. Still have questions? Let us know! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us @shipccec, or stop by our center, CUB 108. We're happy to help you however we can!
WHAT TO DO BEFORE
One of the best things you can do before the career fair is research what employers will be at the event so you can target which ones you'd like to speak with at the fair. You can do this two ways:
- SHIP Career Connection: Simply log in here using your SHIP ID and password, click on "events" on the left-hand side menu, then on "2018 Job & Internship Fair." Then you'll be able to see which employers are attending and do more research on the companies and organizations you are interested in. Be sure to think of some questions to ask the employer based on your research.
- Download the know.careers app and prepare for the fair: use the app to research employers and take notes, mark your "favorites," plan your route using the interactive fair map, and upload your resume to share with recruiters during the event. Find the app here or by searching for "know.careers" in the App Store or Google Play. Once you've downloaded the app, select "Shippensburg University 2018 Job & Internship Fair" as your event.
You should also have your resume reviewed by a Career Center staff member before the fair. Use this guide to get started and then stop by during Express Hours (no appointment needed!) on Mondays 2-6 pm or Wednesdays 2-4 pm or call to schedule a one-on-one appointment with a career adviser: 717-477-1484.
WHAT TO WEAR
A career fair's dress code is typically business professional. Business professional means wearing what you might wear to an interview. We suggest a business suit or skirt suit in a conservative color- black, navy, or gray are preferred. A suit consists of two parts- a pair of pants or skirt and a matching jacket, sometimes called a blazer. Under the suit, most people wear a button-down dress shirt, a tie, or a blouse that complements the shirt. Usually, the shirt worn under the suit is a lighter color than the suit. If you choose to wear a tie, keep it a solid color or simple pattern.
For shoes, we recommend dress shoes, loafers, wing-tips, low/medium heels, or flats- all in a conservative dark color. If wearing socks, they should be a dark color to match your suit. If wearing stockings/tights/hose, they should be a neutral or dark color. If you don't have a suit, we suggest dark colored dress/business pants and a light-colored button-down dress shirt or sweater. Whatever you choose to wear should be clean and wrinkle free. Keep perfume and cologne to a minimum, make sure your hair is clean, styled, and off your face, and limit jewelry to a few small pieces.
There are a few things that should not be worn to a career fair: jeans, sweatpants, white socks, stained or wrinkled clothing, too tight or too loose clothing, revealing or provocative clothing, excessive or large jewelry, multiple piercings, heavy or excessive perfume/cologne.
WHAT TO BRING
- Several copies of your resume. Doing research ahead of the fair can help you determine how many you'll want to bring.
- A folder/notebook to take notes with. When you talk to employers, you'll want to write down their contact information and any other details about their company/organization.
- A professional bag- like a messenger bag or nice handbag, not a backpack. If you bring a backpack, we'll have a place for you to drop it off in the CUB before heading into the fair.
WHAT TO SAY
Career fairs are a great time to deliver your "thirty-second commercial," a quick summary of who you are and what you're looking for. You can include the following details:
- Major and class year (i.e., first-year, sophomore, etc.)
- Opportunities you are seeking (i.e., internship, networking, career information, full-time job, etc.)
- Relevant experiences, skills, and strengths
After introducing yourself to the employer, simply have a conversation with the recruiter! You may want to have some questions prepared ahead of time based on your research. Here are a few other suggestions:
- What entry-level or internship opportunities exist at your organization?
- What kinds of skills and experience do you look for in the employees that you hire?
- What educational background do you look for in a candidate?
- What’s the one thing that surprised you most about working for this organization?
- How would you describe company culture?
- What advice would you give someone starting out in this field?
- What made you choose this organization and what makes you stay?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- May I contact you with further questions? Do you have a business card/contact information?
WHAT TO DO AFTER
Within 24 hours of the fair, send a thank you note, another copy of your resume, request for informational interview, etc. via email. Following up with the employer shows that you have a genuine interest in their organization and helps to set you apart from other candidates.
Remember, the recruiter standing at the company/organization's table is there for a reason- to meet talented SHIP students like YOU! Practice your "thirty-second commercial," spend some time formulating questions based on your company/organization research, update your resume, and dress to impress- you'll feel more confident and will be able to maximize your experience and time at the fair. Good luck!