By Nicole Mott ’10
Event: DC Career Fair
When: March 4, 2010
Location: GAO Building, Downtown DC
I attended the DC Career Fair a few weeks ago and really picked up a lot of good advice about how to make the most of a career fair. It is extremely important to take advantage of the Career Fairs that Bucknell sets up because you never know the contacts that you will meet or the information you will gain. The people at the Career Fair are interested enough in Bucknell students to take the time out of their day to speak with you, so you have a much better shot at gaining a contact at a career fair then via email. I remember an alumni pointing out an important point that, “it is much harder for an employer to say no to you face-to-face, then to simply delete an email”. This concept really stuck with me because it is such a valid and important point. Check out some advice I’ve compiled about how to approach a Career Fair…
Important Advice in dealing with Career Fairs:
- Do the research beforehand
Even though I’m not extremely interested in government or nonprofit work I’m interested in moving back home to the area and figured it would be helpful to speak to alumni and participants in DC. I found a few organizations that caught my eye and decided to further research the company. If the career fair is posted through The Bridge there will be a list of the organizations that register for the event with an informational blurb for each one. It is strongly suggested to go to the company’s website and familiarize yourself with the organization that you are interested in speaking with. Although you are able to pose the question, “Can you tell me about your organization?” it is much more impressive to ask specific questions that you have come up with after researching their company.
- What if an organization doesn’t show?
This situation happened to me with the DC Career Fair but it is important to make the most out of the situation. I had researched a few companies that I wanted to speak to but when I got there I realized that one of them was unable to attend. Although it’s often much more efficient to speak with the organizations in person, it is important to still use this opportunity. After the career event, stop by the Career Development Center to see if they have the employee’s email address of the company you were interested, if they did not show. This extra step of contact will show your enthusiasm and true interest in the organization. Mention that you are interested in the company and wanted to know further information, since you noticed the representative was unable to attend the DC Career Fair.
- Try to speak to as many people as possible
Career fairs can be overwhelming with so many students trying to speak to one or two tables, but try to speak to as many people as possible, even if you’re not interested in the company, because you never know what might come up. Speaking with as many of the participants as possible is beneficial because they are at the career fair; therefore they show an interest in helping you with your career search. Even if you are interested in engineering, go ahead and speak with a nonprofit organization. They might end up telling you about a friend of theirs at a different organization that you should get it contact with or any other information they have. It is also important to make sure you ask for their email information after a good conversation, if they are willing to speak with you further.
- Follow up
It is very important to follow up with the contacts you make at a career fair to establish a firm contact and show you are actually interested in the company. A few days after the event, be sure to write to the participant with whom you spoke to; reintroducing yourself and thanking them for their time and any follow up questions you have. Make sure not to pressure participants about job positions available if they don’t have anything or aren’t willing to offer the information up front.
Even though the job pursuit is a stressful one, try to make the most of the opportunities that Bucknell’s Career Center presents for you. Career fairs are a great way to establish a contact with multiple different employers and network. Even if there is only one or two organizations that you are interested at the fair, go! It is basically like a mini-interview that you can then follow up with the employers later.