Meeting recruiters in person is being a step ahead of the other candidates who apply cold. You of course need to make sure to prepare an advance for the fair in terms of becoming knowledgeable about the companies you want to talk to, see which companies are attending the fair, and bring lots of patience with you because you know you’re going to be waiting in plenty of lines. Make sure you prioritize your time in order to be able to talk to every company that you have on your list. That doesn’t mean talk to every single company, but select a handful of companies that you may want to work for and go ahead and talk to them. If you have extra time at the end, feel free to talk to whoever else you want to as well. Don’t talk to every single company for no good reason. You need to be somewhat picky in order to get a job you want, but only be selective until you are absolutely desperate to get a job (ex you’re running out of time before the internship hiring period ends for all of the companies). Here are 6 steps on how you can thrive at an internship or career fair:
1. You should always treat an internship fair like an in-person interview, except it’s usually a precursor to that. Dress to impress (business professional, meaning to wear a suit), give a firm handshake, and you’re off with a smile and enthusiasm towards attaining the ultimate job for yourself!
2. Make sure you’ve done your research about each company that you plan on talking to because you may get asked questions to test whether or not you know anything about the company (ex where their headquarters are). Also, some companies make their applications available online prior to the fair. While you’re doing your research, check if the company has their application available. If so, definitely apply prior to talking to them. It will impress the company with your level of interest in the job. Who knows, maybe they’ll schedule an interview on the spot! It is possible for that to happen, so be prepared! I have seen it happen and it has happened to me as well!
3. Don’t get discouraged if the company decides not to talk to you because your GPA doesn’t meet their requirements or if they automatically tell you that you don’t meet their qualifications. Still apply online if that happens. You never know. You can blow them away with your technical skills, portfolio, or other outside professional experience that they may have missed when initially glancing over your resume!
4. Be prepared with everything that you could possibly need on hand, such as extra resumes, business cards, pen/paper, a portfolio, and a bag to carry the random trinkets that you’re given. Make sure to bring at least 2 resumes per company that you plan on talking to. Also, you should print your resumes on resume paper. Some career centers have some. Otherwise, you can find it at Wal-Mart or something like that. You never know. You may end up wanting to talk to more companies than expected. Bring a portfolio to store your resumes, pen/paper (in case you want to take notes while talking to the company, or right after), your business cards (which you should also bring), and a place to hold the free goodies you’re going to get from all of the companies you talk to. They will give you little “knick knacks” such as flash drives, $5 gift cards to somewhere, hats, post it notes, etc. Recruiters will notice those “little things”, such as using resume paper and bringing a portfolio and know that you have gone the extra mile in terms of handling yourself professionally! It also shows preparedness!
5. Bring your arsenal of questions. Even if you’ve talked to that particular company already at another fair, asking questions continues to tell the recruiter how interested you are in the position. Bring 2 or so questions each subsequent time you talk to them. If this is your first time talking to that particular company, bring at least 3.
6. The very most important thing to bring with you to internship fairs is your “30 second commercial”, which takes place right after the initial handshake usually (or right after the recruiter asks you your year, major, what type of internship or job you’re looking to apply for, etc. and glances at your resume). When you give your 30 second commercial, you say that you’re a (year) majoring in (major). Your goal is to work in your company for (whatever position(s) you plan on applying for). You are involved in (list extracurricular activities). I love to (list hobbies). You are a leader of (something, if you are). You love and are very passionate about what you do. Your greatest strengths are (ex being very flexible). Basically, just emphasizing what you love, your goals, and your strengths in order to best sell yourself. You want to brag, but don’t blab. Don’t put the recruiter to sleep. Imagine someone who just won’t shut up and you are just nodding your head pretending to care. You don’t want to end up being in their shoes having someone nonstop blab to you!
So here’s how it goes:
When it’s your turn to talk to the recruiter, introduce yourself, give a firm handshake, smile, and be ready to sell yourself while being yourself. Just before giving your thirty second handshake, tell the recruiter what position you want to apply for. Next, ask if they would like a copy of your resume (and a business card) and hand it over to them. Afterwards, start the conversation by giving your 30 second commercial or by answering whatever the recruiter asks you (ex the “are you eligible to work” questions and if you know anything about the company). After all of that, since there is a line, the recruiter will ask you if you have any questions; you are ready to ask away. With those questions, try to embark in a good conversation. Whether it’s about the company or hobbies you share, try to connect with the recruiter you’re taking to. When you’re done, ask for a business card and how you can apply (if you haven’t already). When you’re done, shake their hand, thank the recruiter for their time, and you’re off to conquer the rest of the fair!