We generally recommend that students plan on interacting with five to seven employers at ICF. Start with your lower-priority organizations to warm up your networking muscles and practice delivering your elevator pitch organically. Then, with your pitch perfected, move on to the few companies for whom you’d most like to work.
It’s a pretty straightforward strategy, though you may want to adjust it depending on how long you can hang out and what you’re hoping to achieve.
If you have a couple hours or more to explore the fair, then the five to seven employers estimate should be pretty safe — you’ll probably have time to talk with more, actually. On the other hand, if you’ll need to be in and out in an hour or so, you’ll want to focus solely on your two or three most desired companies. This means you won’t have a chance to practice with other employers beforehand, so make sure you do so with friends or family in the days leading up to the event.
When planning on who you’ll talk to, keep in mind that lines for the most popular employers can get long. Last year, during peak traffic, students were waiting for up to 45 minutes to talk with recruiters at a couple companies. Wait times will obviously be less during the iSchool-only hour at the start, but it’s something to be conscientious of when planning.
When devising your plan of action, also consider why you’re attending the fair. If you’re there in search of a job or internship, then you’ll obviously want to interact with the companies where you’d like to work. Some students, though, attend simply to practice their networking. If that’s you, worry less about the specific companies you talk to, and instead focus on hitting as many tables as possible — that’ll give you more opportunities to develop the skills needed for a future fair when you actually are hoping to land a job.
A couple final tips: if your schedule allows, take breaks! For the introverted among us, stepping back from the noisiness of the HUB Ballrooms will provide a crucial chance to recharge. Even if you don’t mind the bustle of the event, a few minutes will allow you to reassess the effectiveness of your pitches so far and adjust accordingly.
And last, enter the fair knowing your schedule for the week. It’s not unheard of for employers to offer interviews on the spot, in which case you’ll need to know your availability.
For more on this topic, be sure to check out our Navigating a Career Fair workshop this Thursday, 12:30 – 1:20pm in BLD 070. It will be led by former iSchool career adviser Janet Matta and will also be live streamed via Zoom.
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