In today’s ever-evolving job market, attending a career fair is an essential step toward securing your dream job or internship, and virtual career fairs have become the new norm. For Penn State World Campus students, attending a virtual career fair can be a crucial part of your job search journey.
The two career counselors from Penn State World Campus Student Affairs Career Services, Lynn Atanasoff and Matt Soroka, shared the following tips to guide you through the process and help you make the most of this valuable opportunity.
Be prepared before you log on
Meet with a career counselor before you attend the fair to have someone review the résumé you will submit to recruiters.
Just like in a traditional career fair, it’s essential to research the companies that will be attending the virtual event. Identify the organizations that align with your career goals, and take the time to learn about their values, culture, and available job opportunities. This knowledge can help you stand out when you engage with recruiters.
Have your elevator pitch ready. This is the introduction you will give to the recruiters when you meet them. It should highlight your skills, experiences, and career goals. Keep it concise and engaging, and practice it so it flows naturally.
Prepare a few questions you can ask the recruiters to show you have done your homework.
The career counselors can give you tips on strategies for interacting with the recruiters and developing your elevator pitch.
Make a positive first impression
Be mindful of the first impression you will give the recruiter with whom you speak.
Dress to impress. Even though you will connect to the virtual career fair from your own space, you should dress professionally to make a positive first impression on employers.
Introduce yourself with your elevator pitch. Make eye contact and avoid being distracted. If you have a busy household, ask that your family leave you alone so you can focus.
Be engaged and enthusiastic
When you are talking with recruiters, show enthusiasm and interest in their companies and the roles they offer. Reference current events, projects, or news that you found about the companies when you did your research.
Ask the questions you prepared in advance.
Do not leave the meeting without getting their contact information so you can follow up later.
Follow up, follow up, follow up
The magic of a career fair is the networking opportunity to meet recruiters from a variety of industries all in one place. When it is over, though, do not expect the recruiter to follow up with you. You should be the one to initiate contact after it is over.
Send personalized thank-you emails to the recruiters you met. Tell them you appreciated the chance to speak with them and reiterate your interest in their company.
Your career counselor can also help you tailor your follow-up strategy.
What if you’re not ready to attend a career fair?
Even if you have some time left before you graduate and are not actively hunting for a job in your field, it can still be worth the time to attend, to get the experience and become familiar with the format.
You can still make connections with recruiters and stay in their pipelines.
Adult learners at career fairs
Many Penn State World Campus students work full-time while they complete their degrees. They bring work experience, life experience, and work ethic to the table, which may interest employers.
The bottom line: You may have a lot more to talk about than you think.
Attending a virtual career fair can be a transformative step in your career journey. By adequately preparing, researching, and engaging with recruiters, you can make the most of this opportunity and secure your path to success in the professional world.
Good luck, and happy networking!