Do Dress the Part
When you go to a career fair, it is the beginning of a conversation that you are going to be having with a potential internship or employment opportunity. This first impression is important and it’s crucial that you put forward that you are professional. It’s imperative to take care of your appearance because you can easily prepare to look professional, to ensure that you aren’t judged on that, but rather on the rest of your package. Don’t let something you can easily control be a reason a firm you want to work for doubts you.
Do Have Copies of Your Resume Available (and a 30/60 Second Run Through Prepared)
Always have double the resumes you think you’ll need on hand. Have them out, and readily available to give to recruiters.
The nature of the career fair is that certain tables will have more of a line than others. It’s important to be able to distinguish which are the more competitive tables to navigate and which are easier to access. Ones that are easier to access will give you more ability to engage in more detailed conversation, so for those tables you can speak to the recruiter or people at that table for a longer period of time. Other tables will have more interested students. Thus, it’s important to have two types of “walk-throughs” of your resume and overall package. For shorter conversations, a 30 second presentment of yourself will do, while longer conversations can be up to around 60 seconds before a back and forth short question and answer.
Seek to Speak to Employers of Interest First
The nature of the career fair is that time is limited, so make sure that you go to tables you know you are interested in first, and save companies you want to explore for later.
Part of this strategy is going to be having done prior research on firms that will be present at the fair. A useful application to download is “NYU Career Fair Plus” on your Android or iPhone. It will have a list of all employers who are going to be at the fair. If you want to be prepared and hit the ground running, download the application and learn in depth about every single firm you’re interested in that will be present.
Do Be Yourself
Don’t try to fit into a bubble of what you expect the recruiter will like. Recruiters are people, not robots who just sort between good fits and bad fits for positions. Be confident and know that it is part of the recruiter’s goal to find smart, competent and easy to work with people to work for their firm (given that they are otherwise good fits for the position). I’ve seen people be incredibly aggressive with recruiters to prove that they are go-getters. That’s not a good way to be, because no one wants to work with people who are abrasive as a means of showing their competence or ability to do well.
Do Only Go After Positions That are Genuinely of Interest to You
I say this because I really think people waste time and energy going after internships and employment they don’t really care to have. This is not only a waste of your own resources but of many people’s. It’s obvious to a potential employer when you are going after something only because you think it will be glamorous, pays well, or is what your friends are doing. At the end of the day, you’ll have to step into and out of an office every single day for the duration of your internship or employment. Where you work, whether you want to work there, and whether or not it’s a good fit for you will impact every part of your life – so make an educated choice. Know the firm and the work you will be doing, know yourself and seek to add the most value to both.