How I navigated my first-ever career fair

JENNIFER BIESIADECKIThe ACES + LAS Career Fair was pretty big – it attracted 750 LAS students from 47 majors. Representatives from more than 130 companies attended, as well. I wanted to find ways to stand out from the hundreds of other students who attended.

The first thing I did to prepare was attend a career fair workshop. This was eight days before the event, giving me enough tme to do everything the facilitators suggested, plus a couple days to account for my inevitable procrastination. They talked about what goals to set, how to research companies, what to bring, and how to figure out what sets you apart from everyone else in that hot, crowded room in the ARC. Going to one of these workshops was awesome because it gave me a good idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

Then all of a sudden, it was career fair day. Once you put on your big-kid clothes and have your resumes neatly filed in your portfolio, you instantly feel like a CEO. It’s a boost of confidence that carries you all the way to your first booth. When it was my turn to talk to my first recruiter, I wiped my sweaty hands on my pants and shook her hand. I was relieved when she led the conversation, so I could simply learn more about the company and its values. It went surprisingly well, and this positive interaction made me feel better for the rest of the companies ahead.

Career FairI was there for more than two hours, and the time really flew by. Safely home in the comfort of my bunny slippers, I reviewed my notes and added some thoughts I had about the notable conversations I had. In the days after the fair, I received a few emails from the recruiters regarding applications and connected with some on LinkedIn.

I would recommend any student to attend the career fair, whether it be to look for jobs or get practice. I wish I had gone earlier in my academic life because there were so many internships and volunteer opportunities to choose from. It was not hard to be well-prepared and the conversations were so much easier than I anticipated they would be. It’s a great way to get your name out there in a low-stakes environment and learn about what jobs are out there. I can’t wait for the next fair!

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