Here are some tips for making the day a success.
Before the Fair
- Do your homework.
Spend time researching the organizations that will be present. Employers love talking to candidates who are familiar with their company and business practices. You will come across as intelligent, interested, and well prepared.
- Get your resume in order.
Create and/or refine your resume and bring several copies to hand out.
- Prepare a sound bite.
Create a one-minute "sound bite" that summarizes your skills, goals, experience, and the kind of organization with which you want to be associated. Practice this until you are comfortable using this as your opening. Anticipate interview questions and practice your responses.
Example: "My name is Alexandria Fitz and I am a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, where I am studying epidemiology. Before starting the PhD program, I worked in South Africa with WHO in an effort to educate individuals on the dangers of HIV/AIDS. During that time, I was responsible for implementing public health programs that were successful in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the region. I was able to use my research abilities along with my communication skills to develop an ongoing effort to eradicate other infectious diseases in the region. I am interested in..."
At the Fair
- Keep it lively.
Talk to every organization that fits your experience and ambitions. If you meet with 20 recruiters, at the end of the day you will know 20 people by name. That beats sending a blind resume to a personnel director. When you get the opportunity to talk to a company representative, remember to shake hands firmly and introduce yourself. This is your chance to make the best first impression. Don't forget to dress appropriately!
Talk to both employers and other job candidates. If you are standing in line, don't be shy to talk to the other people in line with you. More jobs are filled by networking than any other means.
- Get the interviewer's business card--and follow up!
If an interview goes well, you will want to follow up with a letter within a couple of days. The letter will reinforce the points you made during the interview and the facts you learned. Always refer to the date and the location of the job fair, and highlight parts of the conversation that stood out to make it easy for them to remember you. Always include a copy of your resume.