Intro to Career Fairs
RIT sponsors and promotes a number of career fairs throughout the year including two major Fall and Spring Career Fairs for all majors, and all co-op, graduating students and alumni. We also sponsor boutique fairs: Accounting, Hospitality, Packaging. These events are open to RIT students and alumni only. Find out detailed fair information, including job descriptions, through 'Events' in Job Zone.
Career fairs, also called job fairs, are events that take place on college campuses or other community locations. Employers use career fairs to promote their companies and employment opportunities. They set up booths manned by company representatives to speak briefly one-on-one with students/alumni interested in their company. There may be up to hundreds of employers at a single career fair. If you're seeking a co-op or a full time job, career fairs are a good resource.
Even if you’re only a first year student, or you don’t think you want to work for any of the companies that are coming, they are still extremely beneficial. You can investigate career fields and positions for your major; meet representatives from companies for whom you are interested in working; get more information about specific companies; gain an opportunity for an interview with a company; get job and career advice from experts in the field and develop your network of contacts.
There are several things you can do to make the most out of your career fair experience. What follows is a series of strategies to use before, during, and after the career fair. Through Job Zone you can access all information about our scheduled career fairs.
Searching Companies and Job Descriptions
To find the list of participating career fair companies (and links to their profile and web site, login to Job Zone from the student/alumni page of our site. Click on 'Events' on the top toolbar/select the fair/and from that list of companies you can find links to the employer profile, positions posted, and more. Use the detailed search to narrow down companies looking for your major and co-op or full-time openings. TIP: use the cluster of majors to get the best results instead of narrowing to just you major in that grouping.
You can also search career fair job descriptions under 'Jobs' from the top toolbar. Select RIT 'Job Zone Jobs', then 'career fair' from the "show me" drop down. That will take you to all the job postings employers have submitted prior to their visit to the fair. To further refine your search, you can select Co-op or Full-time as the job type, and a major.
Check out RIT student, Peter Ryan's article Handling the Career Fair Like a Pro that includes tips for acing a career fair.
Career Fair Programming
To prepare you for major career fairs, we schedule workshops around related topics to get you ready. Check out our full schedule of programming on a wide range of job search topics.
Many participating companies will post job descriptions through college career services offices and/or on their own website. Find appropriate openings and apply to them, you’ll gain points with a recruiter if you can tell them you’ve taken this initiative.
Research Companies of Interest to You - Check out the company website, company profiles in directories, and search for news articles about the company. Finding out general information will allow you to ask intelligent questions of the recruiter, and learn where you might fit in at the company.
Update Your Resume - It is essential to have a resume that reflects your current skills and experiences, as most companies will be forwarding copies of resumes to many departments within their organization. Typos, grammatical errors, and inaccurate information are not acceptable. The second an employer sees any of these, he or she will question your abilities, particularly your attention to detail. Make sure that others have proofread your resume for accuracy; your program coordinator in the Office of Co-op & Career Services is available to check it over.
Be Prepared to Ask Questions - Try to have one or two questions in mind for each employer, based on your research of and interest in the company. Do not ask the recruiters personal questions.
Know Yourself - Know why you want to work for the company, and be able to express your skills, accomplishments, and goals in a clear, concise manner. Try to identify specific experiences where you have demonstrated your strengths and skills.
Learn to Sell Yourself Quickly - You’ll only have a few minutes to introduce yourself, show you know what the organization is about, and spark the recruiter’s interest in you for a future, more formal interview. This is not easy, and takes preparation and practice – use a mirror, web cam, friend, or practice with your program coordinator in the Office of Co-op & Career Services.
You’re at a career fair, in an interview or at a networking event. You shake hands with the recruiter – then what? The 60 second commercial (or “elevator speech”) is an introduction you can use in a number of different scenarios that quickly explains who you are, what your interests and goals are and what you know about the company.
If you have thought this through ahead of time, you will be able to make the most of your brief conversation and hopefully it will lead to an interview!
To quickly articulate what you want, leave a positive impression, and create interest in you as a candidate.
How to Create Your Commercial
1) Who are you?
2) What are you looking for?
3) What have you done? What are your accomplishments?
4) What interests you about this company?
5) Closing/next step
6) Put it all together
Hi my name is _________________. I will be graduating/just graduated from ______ with a degree in __________________. I am looking for ___________. I found in my research that your company is strong in_____________________. I’m very interested in finding out more about the opportunities you have. May I have your business card so I can follow up with you?
Hi my name is ______________. I am a ____________major. I’m looking for a co-op in corporate finance. In my last co-op at XYZ Company I was able to gain valuable experience in _________________. I know that your company specializes in _________. I would be very interested in hearing about any opportunities you may have in this field.
“Good morning/afternoon, I’m______. I have reviewed the job posting listed on the RIT website and am interested in ___________. I have applied for this position(s) through your website and would like the opportunity to discuss my qualifications in greater detail. I will be graduating in May with a degree in ________, and through my co-ops, have gained the experience you are looking for.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Do research the company
- Do make your commercial sound natural and unrehearsed
- Do make it memorable
- Do practice it
- Do project friendliness, confidence, enthusiasm
- Do end with action items – i.e. collect a business card or contact information
- Do follow up with the recruiter
- Don't make the conversation focused on what you want, rather what you can do
- Don’t ask: “So what does your company do?” -- This will turn off the recruiter immediately
- Don’t ramble or take up too much of the recruiter's time
- Don’t be disappointed if you are asked to apply for an opening through the company website. You have not wasted your time. Many companies need to track candidates through their site
Career fairs can be intimidating and overwhelming. The tips below will give you an idea of what to expect at the event, and how to get through it successfully.
What to Expect
- A large room, with rows and rows of booths or tables of companies.
- Some will have displays, others won't.
- It will be crowded, with long lines at some tables, and loud. Be prepared to wait.
- Student registration tables are usually located at the entrance to the fair. Here you will be asked to swipe your RIT ID, create a name tag, and you’ll be given a map and list of attending organizations.
- At RIT Fall & Spring Fairs, many companies stay to conduct interviews the next day in the field house.
What to Bring
- Copies of your resume, transcript and samples of your work, if appropriate. (Note: because of new regulations, employers may need to track their applicants and for some companies the best first step is to apply through their web site.)
- A pad of paper and pen, to take notes.
- A briefcase or portfolio to carry your resumes and notes, and to store business cards and company literature.
Plan Your Strategy
- Apply for positions or submit your resume ahead of time through the company's web site -- earn points by letting the recruiter know you have taken this initiative.
- Plan to arrive early and stay late – this will enable you to meet with every company in which you’re interested.
- After you check in, survey the layout of the fair on the map, and prioritize the employers with whom you’d like to speak, identify the information you want to get from them, and specify goals you hope to achieve.
- You may want to start by approaching organizations that have a lower priority, to get your feet wet and gain confidence before approaching your top choices.
Make a Good First Impression
- Dress for success – interview attire is preferred. You should choose a conservative approach to your dress. Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be walking and standing for long periods of time. How you look will play a big part in determining employer interest. (Check out our Pinterest Dress for Success boards for good ideas).
- Approach the employer, shake hands, smile, and introduce yourself. Remember to maintain eye contact. Be enthusiastic!
- Avoid distracting behaviors such as smoking, gum chewing, eating or drinking while with employers.
- Be polite – don’t interrupt the employer reps or your fellow job-seekers, don’t monopolize the recruiter’s time.
- Be memorable – conversations may seem casual, but you are actually being evaluated. Be direct and visible so recruiters will remember you and what you said.
- Start with your “60 second commercial” to introduce yourself. The goal is to connect your background to the organization’s needs.
- You may only have a few minutes to market yourself and gain an interview, so make the most of your time. Be prepared to explain why you came to the company’s table, and what skills and qualifications you have to offer the company.
- Be articulate, and show confidence in your voice. The room will be noisy, and you’ll need to speak clearly and avoid using filler words, such as “um,” “like,” “you know.”
- As you leave each employer, learn what the next step in their process is and what, if anything, you should do to advance your candidacy.
- Make sure you get the representative’s business card or contact information. Take time to make notes of your discussion after you finish speaking with each company, before you move on. Without notes, you may become confused if you’ve visited several companies in quick succession.
- Explore all your options – speak with companies you may not have considered before.
- Make the most of your wait in line – get company literature from the table before you get in line, so you can read about the company while waiting.
- Don’t just randomly hand out resumes – if you’re not interested in a company, don’t approach them. It would only be a waste of time for both of you.
- Don’t be disappointed when you finally get your chance to talk with the recruiter and they encourage you apply through their site, rather than take your resume. Because of new regulations, employers may need to track their applicants and for some companies the best first step is through their site.
- If the company representative works in a different field than the one you’re interested in, do still talk with the company, being sure to leave with the contact information for the person responsible for hiring in that area; don’t be discouraged and walk away.
- Network with your fellow job-seekers – share information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles.
- Don’t expect to be offered a job at the career fair, but it is not uncommon to get offered an interview. Know your schedule, and schedule any interview you can attend. If you’re not interested in the company, do not take the interview.
- Be polite at all times. The person you meet in the parking lot, elevator, hallway, or restroom may be a recruiter you’ll see later that day.
- If you expect companies to call for an interview/follow-up, make sure you have a “serious” message on your answering machine, or that you have roommates that can take a message for you.
- Smile, relax and be yourself.
Follow-up is a very important, yet an often neglected step in the career fair process. Few job seekers actually take the time to follow up on their career fair interviews, so if you follow these steps, you will have an edge over candidates who don’t!
Can I Follow Up With All Employers?
It won’t be possible to follow up with every employer and company that attends the career fair. It’s up to you to find out what to do for follow up with each company in which you are interested. Also, make sure you know who you’re talking to; get a business card or contact information. This will make follow up a lot easier.
How Do I Follow Up?
When you talk with a company representative, ask what the next step in the process is, and how you should follow up with them. Some companies will simply refer you to the web site to complete an application, or collect your resume, and indicate you’ll be contacted if there is interest in interviewing you. In these instances, the representative may not have a business card for you to take, or won’t give out their contact information, and there will be no way for you to follow up. Don’t be frustrated – this doesn’t mean there are no jobs at these companies, it just means you’ll need to go through a different process to get at them.
Other representatives will have business cards, and will indicate that it’s okay for you to follow up. In this case, you should send a thank you note (email, typed or handwritten) to the employer. Use your notes about your discussion to help you personalize your note; remind the employer that you talked with them at the career fair, reinforce how your skills and qualifications will be an asset to the company, and reiterate that you’re interested in an interview.
Make a follow up phone call within a week to ten days after the event. Restate your interest in the company and position, find out if you are still being considered for an opening and when you might hear about interview arrangements.
How Can I get a List of Companies and Contacts?
If you’re not sure whether a company is agreeable to follow up, or you have lost a business card, the Office of Co-op & Career Services will have the contact information of all company representatives who are willing to have students/alumni contact them after the career fair.
How Do I Follow Up After An Interview?
If you do have an interview following the career fair, make sure to send a thank you note to the interviewer within 48 hours of the interview. Thank the employer for the interview, reiterate your interest in the company and position, and how you will be an asset to the company.
Be realistic in your career fair expectations; don’t expect to get a job on the spot. A career fair is just one step in the job search process, but is a good way to expand your network, learn more about the job market, and develop possible job leads.
If you are not able to attend a career fair, there are still some ways you can take advantage of the opportunity to connect with representatives, and find out about opportunities.
Look at the list of participating companies If they are coming to a fair, they are most likely hiring -- a company is in good financial shape or has a bright outlook if they are willing to spend the money to travel to a career fair. Learn about new companies, find out how others are doing. A career fair can showcase industry leaders that may not have big name recognition but may be a perfect fit for what you hope to do. Many companies take the time to submit job descriptions prior to their visit to campus; go ahead and apply to them!
Job listings in Job Zone Many companies coming to a career fair will also post their job openings in Job Zone. Once you have identified the companies that are of interest to you, check to see if they also have a job listing in Job Zone -- then apply!
Apply through the company web site Always apply to openings through their site. Even if you can come to the career fair, companies want you to submit your resume through their site because it helps them track candidates. So in this way, you are on a level playing field with students who do attend a fair.
Use the Career Fair contacts Check with your program coordinator in the Office of Co-op and Career Services – we have a database of thousands of company contacts. Recruiters from a fair, open to being contacted, will be on a list after the fair for student follow up.