Yesterday I was one of the few freshman at my college to attend the first career fair of the season. In the week leading up to it any upperclassmen I talked to told me it was intimidating and just plain scary when they attend as freshman. After actually going and experiencing it I can tell you they're all completely wrong. And I'll tell you why.
A career fair is a place where job recruiters from dozens of companies come and try to find people who are excited to work for them. The recruiters at career fairs need students filing certain positions. They're excited to get to be talking to you and answering your questions. They key to enjoying your career fair as a freshman is to understand that yes, the recruiters want to hire college students, but no, they don't want to hire freshman.
Don't set your expectations too high. A big thing to understand is that recruiters love seeing freshman getting out there. Use this to your advantage. Even if you don't have a lot of experience bring a resume (and some copies). When you're walking around a career fair as a freshman and you see people passing their resumes around and signing their names on things you may get discouraged because no ones asking for your resume. Don't panic. If at the end of your conversation with a recruiter they ask if you have any more questions pull out your resume. As if there's anything you can do aesthetically to make your resume look more appealing to recruiters in the future. Chances are they're gonna give you some tips.
In my preparing for a career fair post I talked about doing a little research. It seriously helps! Being alb to walk up to a recruiter and have them immediately know that you know about their company shows your not some kid. You did your research and your ready to talk business. Get a little notebook and write down the booths you want to visit and what jobs they're recruiting for so that you can quickly be able to transition from one booth to another without getting seriously overwhelmed.
Here are some things to ask when you're speaking with a recruiter:
- I know you are currently looking for people who are in the (insert random major here) field, but does your firm offer any positions in (insert your major here) field?
- Do you have any opportunities for underclassmen at your company?
- If not, what can I be doing now to be able to obtain an opportunity with your company in the future?
- What location options are available for the different internships/positions in your company?
If a recruiter ever says "Do you have any more questions?" Never. Say. No. Here are some things to ask before you leave:
- Could you give me a few tips for my resume?
- and if you haven't already asked: What can I be doing to make myself a better candidate in the future?
After you end your conversation ask, and you feel that it was successful, ask for their business card. Then when you get back to your room send them an email! Keeping in touch with a recruiter can be extremely helpful! They can give you tips and may offer you a job in the future. Network and build relationships now. It will be so much easier as an upperclassmen to get better opportunities if the recruiters are familiar with you.
Don't let career fairs overwhelm you. Embrace your freshman/underclassmen status, or if your an upperclassmen remain confident in yourself, and you'll enjoy it!