What to expect at a career fair

Let's face it, the goal of a college education is to find a career. You’ve spent four years building your skillset, now it’s time to find that first job. Attending a career fair, while it may seem intimidating, lets you practice speaking to potential employers, which can boost your confidence and expand your network. 

Mark Anthony from the UofSC Career Center offers these tips for a successful career fair.

Quick tips

Attire: Always go with business professional over business casual to ensure you are presenting the best possible version of yourself.

The pitch: Prepare your “elevator pitch” or self-introduction to break the ice when approaching recruiters. Bring copies of your resume in case a recruiter asks for one. But these can be bulky, so also bring business cards to hand recruiters after speaking with them.

Prepare: Do your research prior to attending and make an A-list and a B-list of the companies you are interested in. If you are feeling nervous, start by approaching some companies on your B-list before tackling the ones on your A-list. 

Be brief: Conversations with recruiters will last no more than 10 minutes, less if there’s a line at their booth. Be proactive in the conversation and ask thoughtful questions.

Followup: Get business cards from everyone you speak with and send thank-you emails. This also gives you the opportunity to ask about the next steps of the application process and attach a copy of your resume if you did not get to hand them one in person.

What about virtual job fairs?

Companies may offer online group information sessions or even opportunities for one-on-one conversations with a recruiter over a video chat. The same rules apply for virtual fairs: Be prepared, dress appropriately and follow up with a thank-you email. 

Career fair season

The Career Center hosts annual events for students to meet with potential employers in the fall and spring semesters. These events may target a specific group, like pharmacy majors, or they may represent a broader range of employers and job opportunities. For additional details or to register for events, visit the Career Center's job fairs and events webpage.

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