For many of the readers of First Steps, it is the second semester of your senior year. Senioritis is encroaching while anxieties about the job search tug you in the opposite direction. Many of your friends in business and accounting have had jobs lined up since September and your post-graduate life is still uncertain. It is a frightening feeling. I felt the same way only a year ago.
Fortunately, there is an upside. Opportunities are in place for students to make connections and meet future employers. A key one is a career fair. Many job/career fairs take place in the spring and can be hosted by colleges or professional organizations. Some students may find these fairs useless. Others may find them completely daunting. I have some advice for making the best of your experience at a job fair and how to extend the connections you make into job opportunities.
1. Have a Plan
At times, fairs can be overwhelming. The ratio of students to recruiters can be low and so it is best to come prepared with a plan of action. If you receive materials about the job fair ahead of time, review them. What kinds of companies will be present? What locations are they from? Highlight companies you want to speak with and do some research on what to discuss. Think to yourself, "What attracts me to the company? Why could I see myself working there?" It will be important to incorporate your work experiences into these points when speaking with recruiters.
2. Business Cards
Resumes are always important to have at job fairs, but sometimes it can seem too forced or superficial to give one to a recruiter. If you find that you are uncomfortable, providing business cards can be a smart solution. Keep your card concise and include professional contact information. Offering your own card can also invite human resource professionals to hand you theirs as well.
3. Embrace the competition
Oftentimes, students view job fairs as stressful because of the competitive environment. Many others are hoping to make an impression and earn time with talent recruiters. Believe it or not, this is actually a great opportunity to meet other determined students. Building your network works on all levels, not just future employers. One day you may be working side by side the students you meet in situations like these. The advertising world is much smaller that you think.
4. Always follow up
Following up is key after meeting recruiters at career fairs, because after all, this is the beginning of a relationship you hope to continue. It is important to send an email or handwritten note personalized to the discussion you had with the individual. Do not be discouraged if you do not receive a response right away. It is likely that many other students sent emails too. It does not hurt to send another follow up but be careful of sending too many.
Any opportunity to meet advertising and marketing professionals is a step in the right direction. With these tips, you will be closer to turning new connections into the job you are looking for.
About Amanda Roselli
Amanda is a recent graduate of Ithaca College and currently works as an account associate at JWT.