Preparing for Career Fairs
While spring usually sees fewer employers coming to campus for individual information sessions, there are a number of career fairs on the calendar. Most of the employers at this quarter’s fairs have “unstructured recruiting,” meaning they’re making hiring decisions that line up with the end of the school year, just in time for students to start work in the summer. Unstructured recruitment is more typical of small and medium-sized companies (whereas large organizations, like Microsoft or Google, tend to visit UW earlier in the year).
Below, we’ve compiled some information about the upcoming fairs, along with tips to help you make the most of the events.
Annually one of the largest fairs on campus, this year’s Spring Career Fair features more than 140 employers hiring for both full-time jobs and internships. Many will be offering technical, managerial, and analytical roles — check out the fair’s official app for more info on which companies to target.
The second annual Marketing, Media & Communications Fair (MMC) will bring in employers from advertising, journalism, marketing, social media, and film. With about 30 companies registered, MMC offers a more intimate environment than the Spring, SEBA, and iSchool career fairs. Students will need to weed through sales and marketing positions, but there should be opportunities to discuss design, analyst, visualization, research, and web development roles.
For anyone still on the market after finals week, the Summer Career Fair is a final opportunity to network and work to secure something for this summer (or beyond). As with the spring fair, the summer one will feature employers from a wide array of industries, though that should include numerous organizations of interest to iSchool students. Check back on the event page as the date nears for an updated list of registered companies.
Now, some help on preparing for these events.
Do your research.
It would be ill-advised to enter an interview without having done any prior research on the company, and the same holds true for career fairs. You don’t need to do a deep dive on every company in attendance, but doing some studying beforehand — especially on those companies in which you have the most interest — will yield results.
Some starting points when researching a company:
- Purpose of the organization — what, exactly, do they do?
- Mission statement, vision, and values
- Reputation* (Glassdoor is your best resource here)
- Organizational initiatives
- Related news (checking the organization’s various social media feeds is a good start)
Read here for more on the benefits of conducting prior research.
*While negative aspects of a company’s reputation can be invaluable in helping you choose between jobs/internships, it’s best to avoid bringing these up during career fair conversations.
Craft your elevator pitch.
Interactions at career fairs are fast-paced. You have dozens of employers to check out (and they have hundreds of students to greet) in just a few hours. The ability to advertise yourself succinctly yet substantively is important.
Before heading to any of the aforementioned fairs, we recommend crafting an “elevator pitch,” a 30-second summary of your core attributes. The speech should cover three areas: who you are, what skills/experience you offer, and the types of opportunities you’re seeking.
Here’s an example elevator pitch for an MLIS student:
“Hi, my name’s John and I’m a graduating information science student. I’m very interested in information organization, and have taken a few classes on knowledge organization and taxonomy. I’m hoping to find something in the private sector where I can further develop this skill set.”
Your elevator pitch is also a great opportunity to demonstrate that research you’ve done. Continuing with the above example, John might add:
“I saw that your company has an opening for a Learning Development Manager and I’d love to learn a bit more about that position.”
“I read that your organization just bought a new complex in Kirkland and plans to add more than 1,000 employees. Is that going to affect your university recruitment?”
Prepare your resume(s).
You’ll want to tailor your resume as much as possible for the positions that interest you. This will likely entail preparing several versions that you can hand out depending on the employer with whom you’re talking. For example, an Informatics student seeking web or application development roles might change the “standard” version of their resume to one that highlighted their projects from Client-Side Web Development (INFO 343), Server-Side Web Development (INFO 344), and Android Application Development (INFO 498).
If you’re targeting a specific company rather than a certain type of role, you might add an objective statement that explicitly references that employer, e.g., “Objective: Further enhance technical skill sets in web or application development as a Starbucks intern.”
It’s a good idea to organize the various versions of your resume, whether with folders or sticky notes, to ensure you hand out the correct one for the given situation.
As a final piece of career fair advice, remember to collect recruiters’ contact information and follow up promptly with the companies that seem like good fits.
And if you’re looking for even more ways to prepare, check out the recording of Alycia’s Navigating a Career Fair event.
(Please RSVP via iCareers for any iSchool event you plan to attend, unless otherwise noted.)
4/20: FAST Enterprises iLounge Hangout; 9:00 – 11:00am, MGH 416
FAST Enterprises, LLC is an industry leader in the development and installation of software for government agencies. Representatives from the company will be in the iLounge to chat informally about career and internship opportunities.
UW Career & Internship Center
4/24: International Systems Research Co. InfoSession; 5:30 – 7:30pm, MGH 134
4/25: Exploring: Marketing, Media & Communications Careers; 2:30 – 3:00pm, MGH 134
4/25: Resume Lab; 3:30 – 4:20pm, MGH 134
4/26: Getting Started: Career Fair Success; 3:30 – 4:00pm, MGH 134
4/26: Job Search Strategies for PhDs and Postdocs; 5:00 – 6:00pm, BAG 260
Top job/internship opportunities:
- Student Assistant – DataLab – Spring 2017, UW Information School; iCareers ID 6066
- Graduate Research Assistant – The Data for Democracy project (TASCHA) – Spring 2017; iCareers ID 6089
- Data Science Internship, Starbucks; iCareers ID 6076
- Software Engineer Intern, Front Desk, Inc.; HuskyJobs ID 114092
- Consultant – Cloud Applications – Center of Excellence, Oracle; iCareers ID 6065
- Reference Assistant, Seattle Central College; iCareers ID 6088
- Librarian/Media Specialist (2017 – 18), St. Thomas School; iCareers ID 6080