iSCHOOL CAREER FAIR TIPS: PART 1
A networking event can be overwhelming, and preparation can help (see article suggested by The Muse). Whether you plan to attend the iSchool Career Fair (ICF), Library & Information Science Speed-Talks & Mingling event, or another professional event/conference, you’ll want to prepare before showing up.
To help you do so, we have several upcoming events aimed at providing you with the skills you need to stand out:
- January 31: ICF: Mingling for Introverts (HUB 337 and online), 12:30-1:30 pm
- February 4: ICF: Resume Review Day OUGL 220, 12:30-2:00 pm
- February 8: ICF: What to Expect, OUGL 220, 12:30-1:20 pm
- February 11: ICF: Industry Careers for MLIS Grads, (MGH 015H and online), 5:00-6:00 pm
Below are some tips from the career team to help you make a positive impression with professionals.
#1: CRAFT YOUR INTRODUCTION
Having a compelling introduction is key when preparing for networking opportunities.
Interactions can be fast-paced, and the ability to talk about yourself succinctly yet substantively is important.
To prepare, we recommend crafting a 30-second summary of your core attributes and interest areas. The intro should cover three areas: who you are, what skills/experience you offer, and the types of opportunities you’re seeking.
In developing your intro, it can help to start with that last part. Are you going to ICF in hopes of landing a UX internship? A full-time taxonomy position? Anything that’ll allow you to develop your technical skills?
Having a specific goal in mind will allow you to pinpoint what aspects of your background and skillset to include in your introduction to employers. Here are some examples:
“Hi, my name’s John and I’m a first year MLIS student with an interest in digital asset management and knowledge organization. I’ve been able to pursue these interests as a student assistant at the UW Libraries, and am currently looking for internships for this upcoming summer. Are you seeking any interns or part-time employees for June through September?”
These examples include pertinent information without overwhelming with irrelevant details. The point of your intro is to interest the employer in further conversation — not recite your resume.
We also recommend tailoring your content based on your listener. If you know a certain organization particularly values experience, think about mentioning multiple internships you’ve had instead of listing all your specific skills. Or if you’ve heard an organization prioritizes community engagement, highlight your time volunteering.
You’ll also want your intro to sound confident and authentic. Practice your intro beforehand until it sounds more conversation than infomercial. This video gives a good demonstration of what it’s like to speak with recruiters at a career fair. If you need help developing your intro, feel free to reach out to one of our career advisors through iCareers appointments or drop-in hours.
#2: DEVELOP YOUR STRATEGY
A career fair or large-scale networking event will be filled with organizations of interest, and you may have a hard time deciding who to approach first. We generally recommend students start their time with lower-priority organizations to warm up networking muscles and practice delivering your introduction organically. After warming up, you can then move on to the organizations for whom you’d most like to work.
It’s a pretty straightforward strategy, though you may want to adjust it depending on how much time you have and what you’re hoping to achieve:
- If you have 90-120 minutes at the event, you can plan on interacting with five to seven employers.
- If you have fewer than 90 minutes, you may want to focus solely on your two or three most desired organizations. (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 popular employers at an event like ICF can get long. At last year’s ICF, during peak times, students were waiting for up to 45 minutes to talk with recruiters at some companies. Wait times will be less during the iSchool-only hour at the start of the fair, but it’s something to be conscientious of when planning.
When devising your plan of action, also consider why you’re attending the event:
- If you’re coming specifically in search of a job or internship, you’ll obviously want to interact with the companies where you’d like to work.
- Some students attend simply to practice their networking and relationship building skills. If that’s you, instead focus on interacting with as many people as possible, rather than a few select organizations — that’ll give you more opportunities to develop the skills needed for a future event or job search.
A couple final tips: If your schedule allows, take breaks! For the introverted among us, stepping back from the noisiness of crowded rooms 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 introductions so far and adjust accordingly.
And last, enter the fair knowing your schedule for the week. Some employers may want to offer interviews on the spot, in which case you’ll need to know your availability.
#3: ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
The benefits of asking good questions are threefold. First, doing so helps keep the conversation going and manages discomfort. In one-on-one conversations, allowing the other person to speak about their own experiences can help make the discourse more fluid.
Good questions also provide useful information. It’s not every day you get face time with current employees from places you’d like to work — use the time to find out things that will help your application and give insight into how well you’d like the work environment.
Third, asking targeted questions will demonstrate you’ve done your research on an organization, which has its own benefits, such as showing your strong work ethic.
Below, we’ve outlined some specific questions you might consider asking:
- What skills or qualifications does [organization name] look for in prospective employees/interns?
- Are there certain courses you suggest taking to strengthen an application?
- Could you outline the interview and hiring process at your organization?
- What has your experience been like at [organization name]? How did you end up working at [organization name]?
- I read about [organizational initiative, new product, etc.] online. Could you tell me more about that?
- I saw online that your organization is hiring for [position title]. Could you tell me more about the day-to-day for this role?
- In your opinion, what sets your organization apart from others in the industry?
A quick final note on what not to ask. Avoid questions that can be quickly answered with a visit to the organization’s website — those will have the opposite effect of reflecting strong work ethic. And don’t use career fairs or events to ask about salary or benefits, topics that are more appropriate further down the line.
iSchool: More info and registration via iCareers
(Missed a workshop? You can review our recorded sessions online.)
- 1/24: Portfolio Reviews; 10:00am – 4:00pm, MGH 224
- 1/25: LIS Speed-Talks & Mingling: Prep Session; 12:00 – 1:20pm, BLD 070
- 1/27: Library and Information Science Speed-Talks & Mingling; 2:00 – 4:00pm, KNE 225 (Walker-Ames Room)
UW Career & Internship Center
- 1/23: LinkedIn Workshop; 1:30 – 2:00pm, MGH 134
- 1/23: Dropbox presents: Crack the Coding Interview; 3:30 – 5:00pm, MGH 134
- 1/25: Finding Internships Workshop (online); 12:30 – 1:00pm, online
- 1/29: LinkedIn Lab; 3:30 – 4:30pm, SMI 401
- 1/30: Job & Internship Fair Success for International Students Workshop (online); 12:30 – 1:00pm, online
- 1/30: Job and Resource Fair – Public & Non-Profit Sector; 12:00 – 4:00pm, Northshore Fire Department
- 1/30: Slalom Consulting: Analyst Program (hosted by UWCA); 5:30 – 6:30pm, DEM 024
- 2/23: World IA Day Seattle; Amazon Oscar Building
POSITIONS FOR CONSIDERATION
- Data Analytics Undergrad Intern, Kaiser Permanente; Handshake ID 2348048
- CNBC Technology Summer 2019 Internships, NBCUniversal; Handshake ID 2348716
- Medical Library Intern 2019-20, UW Libraries; iCareers ID 8434
- Library Intern, Bonneville Power Administration; iCareers ID 8431
- Software Development Engineer – Campus Hire 2019, Amazon Robotics; Handshake ID 2346163
- Software Engineer, Lime; Handshake ID 2344361
- Technology Consultant – Cloud & Infrastructure, West Monroe Partners; iCareers ID 8421
- Software Engineer, MAQ Software; Handshake ID 2346713
- Library Associate, PERS Eligible, Sno-Isle Libraries; iCareers ID 8425