Navigating a Career Fair

So, classes have officially begun. And there is a career fair right around the corner, even before you all get the chance to fully settle into the semester. Don’t panic! While the first few weeks of the fall semester can be hectic, I want to provide a few tips that will help you put your “best foot forward” when it comes to engaging with employers.

Do your research. We use the Handshake platform. Please reach out to our office if you are having trouble navigating the new system. We have some introductory instructions to get your profile started.

One of the benefits of Handshake is that you can actually view the employers that will be in attendance at the career fairs. Go to “Fairs” on the left-hand navigation bar, and you will see a list of options with the Claremont Colleges. Note: You are able to attend all of the career fairs, even if you are not a part of the host college. You are able to view the organizations and the positions in which they will be recruiting. Neighborhoods are broken out by interest cluster (consulting, financial services, healthcare/sciences, technology, and non-profit will all be represented!)

Practice your intro. The days of the dreaded “elevator pitch” are behind us. While that is good news for some, it is still essential that you practice your introduction. When you meet an employer, how will you introduce yourself? I recommend that you state your name, major(s), class year, and college. This opens the doors for further questions, allowing you to state your interest in the organization and position opening(s).

At some point, it may be appropriate to identify your “hook.” What was that defining moment in which you realized that this was the career/company for you?

Dress for success. This really is industry-specific. In the past, CMC has encouraged students to dress in business professional. I would still recommend this for individuals who are interested in business, consulting, and financial services. We recommend that students wear a suit, slacks/skirt, and dress shoes/heels.

For individuals interested in technology or the sciences, we recommend a nice business casual. Students can wear a nice dress shirt or blouse, slacks/skirt, and nicer shoes/heels.

Become comfortable engaging in groups. Many of your conversations at the career fair will be in small groups. It will be important that you generate good questions prior to the career fair, particularly if you consider yourself an introvert. Look for openings to insert a comment or ask a relevant question. More is not necessarily better! Be thoughtful in your communications.

Grab business cards. At the end of the day, you will want to follow-up with “thank you” notes, identifying particularly captivating parts of your conversations. The business cards will give you access to name, title, and email address of the recruiter at the fair. You should send an email within 48 hours of the fair, and be sure to personalize the content!

This is an exciting time to learn more about internships, full-time opportunities, and to explore your next professional steps. If you are looking for additional help in preparation, swing by the Soll Center for Student Opportunity in Frazee and chat with a Career Consultant. They have walk-in hours between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday – Friday.

Scott Busiel