Top Tips for Preparing for a Career Fair

The Fall 2022 semester has officially begun, and campus is buzzing with excitement about new relationships, opportunities, and experiences. The Penn Career Services office is particularly excited this year, as this semester marks the first time that career fairs have been held in person since before the start of the pandemic! We hope you are as excited as we are to meet with employers, network with others, and learn about internship and job opportunities. But if you’ve never attended a career fair before, or if you’re feeling some apprehension, we’ve compiled some top tips to make sure you feel ready to do your best!

1. Know your options

Did you know that Career Services offers multiple career fairs each semester, and that this year, there are a mix of both in-person and virtual fairs? Make sure you’re aware of all of them so that you can attend the ones that seem the most exciting to you:

  • Career Link – September 8th (virtual) & September 9th (in-person)
  • Engineering Career Days – September 15th (virtual) & September 16th (in-person)
  • Biosciences Career Fair – September 29th (in-person) & September 30th (virtual)
  • Government & Nonprofit Career Fair – November 18th (virtual)
  • Nursing Career Day – November 28th (virtual) & December 2nd (in-person)

2. Register (if needed)

Some career fairs require registration ahead of time, and virtual fairs require you to sign up for 1:1 sessions or group sessions with your employers of choice. Make sure to check each fair on Handshake to learn what is required in order to attend.

3. Do your research

On Handshake, you’ll be able to see which employers are coming to the fair and what positions (if any) they are hiring for right now. Spend some time doing research on the companies or roles that seem the most exciting to you. How could you contribute to their organization? Why do you want to work for them? How have your past experiences prepared you for this role? Use Handshake, the organization’s website, and LinkedIn to research.

4. Update your resume

Have you updated your resume to include what you did this past summer? After using our resume-writing guide and proofreading your resume for typos, print out several copies to be able to hand to representatives at the in-person fair, or upload it to Handshake for the virtual fair. Many recruitment processes will require you to submit a resume online, but it can’t hurt to have 20 copies or so of your resume on hand in case employers are collecting them.

5. Practice your pitch

Employers will be talking to hundreds of students at each fair, so you will likely only have a few moments with each one. For these situations, it’s important to practice your pitch, or your 30-60 second commercial about yourself. Your pitch should include who you are, what relevant experience you have, and your interest and enthusiasm in the organization or a particular role. Be sure to smile and speak clearly when you deliver your pitch, and don’t forget to ask a question afterwards! This will allow your pitch to flow naturally into a conversation, which can help the recruiter better get to know you and remember you. If this seems tough at first, practice with a friend!

6. Follow-up afterwards

While there are many things you can do to prepare for a career fair before it starts, what comes after is equally as important. Try to jot down notes in between meetings with recruiters and then send a thank you email or Handshake message to that recruiter within 24 hours. Be brief but specific in thanking them for the opportunity to connect and learn more about their organization. If the company is currently hiring, be sure to submit your application soon afterwards.

Like many things in life, the most fruitful career fair experiences are had by those who take the time to prepare. To learn more, check out the many resources on our website or make an appointment with a career advisor.

Wishing you a fun and successful career fair season!

This article was written a part of our on going collaboration with The Daily Pennsylvanian. See a full list of their articles and subscribe to their Recruiter’s Row newsletter here.

By Jillian Cener
Jillian Cener Associate Director, Engineering