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Opportunity Knocks: 5 Benefits of Attending Your College’s Career Fair

CareerYou’ve received fifteen emails about it from the university career center. You’ve also seen dozens of tables being set up, and you’ve had to dodge the handouts being shoved in your face from the event’s organizers. There’s no avoiding it; the career fair is here. You’ll probably have some classmates who are prepping for it, but you don’t really see its appeal. But here are five reasons why you should give the career fair a shot.

Job and Internship Opportunities

Let’s start with the primary reason college students attend career fairs in the first place: jobs. You’ll be speaking with recruiters whose primary roles are to find the future employees of their companies. Understandably, the competition is fierce. The attendees compete with each other to make great first impressions and wow the recruiters, and the recruiters compete with each other to snag the best new talent.

The first rule is to come prepared. Dust off your formal business suit, print multiple copies of your most up-to-date resume, wear your best smile, and shake some hands. Do preliminary research on the companies that will be there, and make a plan of which tables will be your top priorities to visit. Create talking points relevant to each one, and try to engage the companies’ recruiters in a conversation. After they go back to their offices to sift through the resumes they received, they’ll try putting faces to the names. If you left a good impression, they’ll remember the interaction, and you’ll stand a higher chance of getting callbacks from potential employers.

Immediate Networking Opportunities

The older you get, the more truth you’ll find in the saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Putting your name out there, and a positive image of yourself, is essential. Not only will you be developing your own network of contacts, but you’ll also be interacting with real-world professionals who have well-established, extensive networks of their own. Even if you’re not the right fit for their company, they can put you in contact with the right people or point you in the right direction.

Don’t forget about the attendees like yourself as well. These are your peers, and chances are they’re interested in many of the same careers you are considering. Talk to them and incorporate them into your network. They could be your potential business partners.

Resume Feedback from the Professionals

Professional recruiters look at thousands of resumes, and they only spend about six seconds gauging each one, according to a 2012 study by TheLadders. When you hand your resume to a recruiter at the career fair, don’t be too shy to ask for a quick assessment of it. They can let you know what works and what doesn’t, what you can cut and what to emphasize. This information is invaluable; many people resort to paying professional resume writers, but at a career fair, you can get quick advice from the authorities on resumes for free!

Insight to Different Industries

Maybe you’re unsure of what kind of career you’d like to pursue. A career fair can help you gain valuable insight and a preview into the various industries you are possibly interested in, all conveniently located in one place. Speak to the professionals at the career fair. Come with questions about what they do.

What’s a typical day for them? What’s the company culture like? What do they like most about working there? Tell them what you’re most interested in, and they can tell you where you’d fit. You’ll learn from the insiders’ perspectives what it’s like to work in their respective fields, which can help you decide which direction you might want to go in for your future career.

Future Networking Opportunities

The power of networking can never be emphasized enough. Take every chance available to you to network. To this end, you can use a career fair to find out where and when the recruiters will be convening again. Make plans to attend if the representatives will be coming to your school or to an area nearby.

If you’re interested in going into the finance industry, for example, you could ask where the Fisher Investments upcoming events will be. Chances are you’ll find even more companies related to the same industry that you can network with. Do not underestimate where networking can take you. It can make all the difference between having to settle for the time being or landing your dream job.

Armed with this knowledge, don’t be intimidated at the prospect of immersing yourself in the career fair experience. Career fairs typically come to campus a few times per year, depending on your university. It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s never too early for you to start attending. Whether you’re a college freshman or a senior, you only stand to gain from a visit to the career fair. Best of luck!

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