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Career Fair Prep 101

Being prepared for Fall Career Days is key to building confidence.

Research, Research, Research

Be knowledgable and prepared.

Fall Career Days is a huge event with hundreds of companies hoping to connect with qualified candidates. Be efficient and maximize your time by researching organizations in advance.

  • See who is attending Fall Career Days
    Make sure to search the database to see who is attending. Make note of which day(s) the organization is attending, where they will be located, and what openings they are seeking to fill.

    • PRO TIP:
      Some organizations may only attend one day, send certain branches of their organization, or be looking to fill very specific positions. Researching helps you avoid waiting in line for an organization that doesn't align with your job or internship search.

  • Do a targeted search
    Make the database work for you. Targeted searches narrow companies and help you find the best fit.

    • Check for visa sponsorship
      Some organizations can offer visa sponsorship. Search based on the sponsorship field to make sure you're looking at companies who can sponsor.

  • Make a top list of organizations
    You will not be able to visit every company at FCD. Long lines and limited time mean you need to be efficient and target companies you are most interested in.

  • Visit company websites and social media platforms
    Do some additional research on the organization. Show your interest by looking at products or services they provide, their mission statement, company goals, or new initiatives.

  • Write down questions
    Keep a list of questions you can ask during the event or in a follow-up conversation. 

Prepare your Materials

Show your skills.

  • Build your resumé
    Your resumé is one of the key ways you demonstrate your abilities and show what makes you a great candidate.

    Get started sooner rather than later to give yourself time to edit. Think about the positions you are interested in, what experiences you've had, and what makes you stand out as a qualified candidate. Learn the key steps to building a resumé now.

  • Have your resumé reviewed
    Stop by Career Services during drop-in hours to have someone take a look.

  • Make extra copies of your resume
    Always be prepared with plenty of copies. Recruiters like to collect the hard copy and you never want to be the candidate who has run out of materials.

    • Please note there aren't copy services at the BJC.

  • Bring several pens and something to write on
    Write down your questions and notes about the company in advance so you have them for reference.

    After each interaction, take notes so you don't forget the details. Did the recruiter mention the next steps for applying? A new project the organization is working on? If you scheduled an interview, where was it? Be sure to note these important details.
  • Make sure to get contact information for thank you notes and following-up.
    Mentioning specific details from a conversation at the event will make you stand out from other candidates. Be sure to note these important details so you can reference them in an interview of thank you note.
Create your Pitch

Be confident in what you say.

An elevator pitch is a roughly 30-second introduction that gives you the chance to initiate a conversation with a recruiter and highlight your skills.

  • Share who you are.
    Your resumé will list your experience and skills, but your elevator pitch allows you to summarize and get to the conversation. 

    • "My name is Chloe. I am a senior, majoring in finance, and will be graduating in May. I have a passion for working with non-profit organizations who are making an impact, similar to the several student organizations I'm involved with at Penn State. I saw that your firm has a strong presence in your community and I'm interested in working for a company that is active in making a difference." 

  • Tell them why you're interested.
    Use the research you did on the organization to show your interest and preparedness. Connect it to your experience/skills to show why you would be a great candidate.

    • "My name is Joe. I am a sophomore, majoring in public relations, and am seeking an internship for the summer of 2019. I am interested in interning with your organization because I saw on your website that you represent larger technical firms. I'm the secretary for the Aviation Club and really have a passion for communicating technical details to those without a technical background." 

  • Ask a question.
    Keep the conversation moving. Ask a question to get more information about the company, learn about opportunity, and further the discussion.

    • "My name is Blake. I am a first-year student interested in learning more about your organization and your internship program. My major is chemical engineering. I saw that you offer a rotational internship program. What does that look like during a summer internship?"

Practice in advance.

Everything takes practice and an elevator pitch is no different. Practice at home with a mirror, a roommate, or call a family member. The more you walk through it out loud, the more natural it will sound to a recruiter.

Dress for Success

Look the part.

Fall Career Days is a formal atmosphere and requires professional attire. Each company you talk to has a different culture; being more conservative will ensure that you are well-received by all organizations.

  • Dress for the job you want
    Suits in neutral colors are best for FCD. Wear a buttoned shirt with a tie or a modest length dress with jacket. 

  • Simple is best
    Limit distracting accessories or anything too brightly colored. The focus should be on your experience. Be yourself but make sure to avoid distracting attire. 

  • Keep it classy
    If you would wear it out on a weekend, it's most likely not the outfit you should wear to a career fair. Skirts should be knee length at minimum.

  • Brush it
    Keep hair out of your face so recruiters can see you smile and natural eye contact.

  • Comfy feet are key
    The Bryce Jordan Center is large and there will be plenty of lines. Be kind to your feet and make sure to wear professional shoes that are polished and comfortable. Unsightly bandaids and awkward movements can distract from the conversation.

  • Iron away
    Press your clothes! Don't let wrinkles ruin your professional appearance.

  • PRO TIP:
    Use the Professional Attire Closet to borrow a suit. Stop by during open hours or schedule an appointment to shop the closet. Learn more now.

Jump start the process.

Most companies at Fall Career Days will ask you to also complete an application online. This is completely normal. Companies need to track who applies, centralize materials, and monitor the interview process.

  • Apply to jobs in Nittany Lion Careers
    Companies will often post openings before the fair. Apply in advance to get the process moving. Recruiters may reach out and ask you to stop by events or schedule an interview during fair week.
Network at Events

Put a face to your name.

Meeting with a recruiter face-to-face is a key part of the process. Use networking events as a way to ask questions in a quieter, more intimate atmosphere. 

  • Prep Workshops
    Learn from the experts and ask questions to help you prepare for Fall Career Days. Employers often present on topics and give great insight based on their experience.

  • Information Sessions
    Companies often schedule information sessions on campus during FCD week. These sessions let you learn more about the company, meet recruiters and connect, and leave a great lasting impression.

    Find upcoming information sessions in Nittany Lion Careers. Research the company in advance and have some questions prepared. This is your chance to talk about things like company culture, how a recruiter ended up at that organization, or what they're looking for in candidates.

  • Networking Events
    Fall Career Days week is more than just the career fair. Learn about upcoming networking events and how you can get involved. 

    Colleges often host networking events specifically for their students. Connect with your college career office to learn what's on the schedule.

Nervous about networking?

Getting started can be daunting. Networking grows your professional network and allows you to learn from established professionals.

  • Find resources
    Learn about networking tips, best practices, and how to get started in the Career Resource Center.

  • Create a LinkedIn account
    Build your professional profile and connect with recruiters you meet at the fair. Don't forget to have your online profile reviewed at Career Services during drop-in career counseling hours.

  • PRO TIP:
    Attend the prep workshop on creating an online presence to get started. Take a look at the schedule and make sure to stop by or stream online.
“ Companies won’t come to you, you need to go to each employer with a plan of how you’re going to sell yourself and what you’d like to accomplish with that company. ”
Andrew, Junior
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Before the Fair