Ask a Recruiter is an ongoing series that covers topics both large and small facing students who are looking for their first job or internship. The following article focuses on where to start your job search. 

This series is written by Claire Shriver, an Early Career Recruiter on the University Recruiting team at Lenovo US.

Have a question for Claire about starting your career, interviewing, or finding an internship that’s right for you? Add your question in the comments section.

 

Preparing for Career Fairs and Interviews

September is filled with pumpkin spice lattes, leaves changing colors and falling, but most importantly, career fairs and interviews! I totally understand this can be a stressful time, but what better way to be prepared than to get advice from someone who was in your shoes less than a year ago!

 Your college/university should have their career fair's and fall events advertised on their career center website. The date, time and location, and any additional information you might need to know should be on the main page. Make sure to save the date or sign up if needed, you want to make sure to secure your spot before it is full. Here are some of the most important things to know when attending career fairs and interviewing.

 

  1. Do your research. Most schools advertise the different employers who will be attending their fairs. Take a look at this list and pick a few that pique your interest! Check out their websites, social media's, and see what jobs they might be hiring for. Come prepared with questions to ask the recruiters, it makes the process way less stressful when you have something to chat about! I also recommend doing this before an interview, coming prepared with 2-3 questions for when the hiring manager asks if you have any is always a smart move.

  

  1. Come with Intention. The most frustrating thing I have experienced at a career fair are students that come up, ask "are you hiring?" and take swag off the table and walk away. Obviously we are hiring if we are at a career fair! Recruiters want to know about you, what you are interested in, and why you are coming to talk to them. Providing a sharply defined response will help you stand out from other job-seekers while also providing key information to the recruiters.

  

  1. Come dressed prepared. I completely understand most career fairs fall in the middle of the day, and sometimes you might have class. Be prepared for this and don't come in athletic clothes, dress professionally! You want to be focused on making a good impression. My suggestion is to pack a change of clothes, and making sure you are planning ahead! Proper dress consists of a clean-cut, well-fitting, conservative look featuring darker colors (such as navy, black, or grey). You'll also want to be well-groomed with minimal jewelry and cologne/perfume.

  

  1. Bring a Note-Pad and Pen. Once you finish talking with a recruiter, walk away and take a moment to write down any key points that were discussed and any questions or concerns that were raised. You'll want to use some of this information as you are in your job search. From experience, this was really helpful to look back on when deciding what I was looking for in a company, as well as helped me prepare any questions to ask in an interview.

  

  1. Writing Thank-You Notes. This can be a big reason you might be set apart from other candidates. Make sure you are composing an individual (and specific to your talks) thank-you email to each person you spoke with at a fair or in an interview. This shows employers that you are very interested and passionate about their company. Trust me, we remember the ones that send these! I was one of them and my manager was telling someone about it the other day.

  

Have a question for Claire about starting your career, interviewing or finding an internship that’s right for you? Add your question in the comments section.

Anonymous
  • I always try to do follow up emails!

  • That's all networking really is honestly

  • Good advice.  Always be prepared... Scouts motto.

  • My career fair is next week. Thanks!

  • I don't know why but career fairs always feel so awkward to me. It just feels like forced networking. I know how important they are, I just personally don't like them.