TIPS FOR CAREER FAIRS & NETWORKING EVENTS:
A networking event can be overwhelming, and preparation can help (See article suggested by The Muse). In the coming weeks, the UW will be hosting a number of Career Fairs.
- October 9: Engineering Hiring Expo
- October 10: Business Career Fair
- October 17: Start-up Career Fair
- October 21: HCDE Career Fair (please attend only during hours for NON-HCDE students
- October 23: Science & Engineering Career Fair
To help you prepare for a successful and effective experience, we have compiled some tips for making 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 the event 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 in digital asset management and knowledge organization. I’ve been able to pursue my interest as a student assistant working with the UW Libraries, and am currently looking for internships for June – September 2019. Are you seeking any interns or part-time help for Summer 2019?”
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 natural, 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.
#2: DEVELOP YOUR STRATEGY
A career fair or large-scale networking event will be filled with organizations of interest to you, and you may have a hard time deciding who to approach first. Start by reviewing the employer list for the fair. Review the types of positions for which they are hiring (fulltime, internship) and areas they are hiring in (user experience, archiving program operations, etc.). Are they targeting specific majors? Grads or Undergrads? Do they hire international students?
We generally recommend that 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 a few 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 a career fair can get long, and you can be waiting up to 45 minutes for large employers.
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 events simply to practice their networking and relationship building skills. If that’s you, we recommend focusing on interacting with as many people as possible, rather than focusing on specific organizations — that’ll give you more opportunities to develop the skills needed for a future event or job search.
Pro Tip 1: 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.
Pro Tip 2: Know your schedule for the week. Some employers may want to offer interviews on the spot, in which case you’ll need to know your upcoming availability.
#3: ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
There are several benefits to asking good questions. It helps keep the conversation going, and manages discomfort. 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. Also, 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 particular 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 [organization 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. Don’t use career fairs or events to ask about salary or benefits, topics that are more appropriate further down the line.
#4: LEAVE WITH A GOOD IMPRESSION
Job fairs are as overwhelming for the recruiter as they are for you. Be careful to not overstay your welcome with an employer! There is not specific guideline on how long to talk to a recruiter, but most conversations should be three to seven minutes. If you are there 10 minutes, you may have overstayed your welcome. If the have introduced yourself and given your introduction (bullet #1) and asked a few questions (bullet point #3), it may be time to move to the next company. Listen for verbal cues and watch for physical cues that the employer is ready to move on.
Be polite and courteous. Have your questions ready. Keep in mind that there is a line of students behind you. Thank them for their time and ask them next steps in the companies hiring process. Finally ask them for a business card or contact information. Use that to follow up with them after the fair.
For additional help check-out this online help:
- October 9, 12:30 – 1 pm, Career Fair Success
- How to Navigate a Career Fair (recording)
- Career Fair Success (recording)
iSchool: More info and registration via iCareers
iSchool and Employer Workshops
- Oct 8: iSchool Research Symposium; 12:30 – 1:20pm, BLD 070
- Oct 9: Cover Letter Workshop; 12:30 – 1:20pm, HUB 214
- Oct 15: Consulting 101 Boot Camp by West Monroe; 5:30 – 7:30pm, HUB 214
- Oct 16: Technical Interview Prep by Karat; 12:30 – 1:20pm, HUB 214
- Oct 16: Mentors and Messes: Top Ten Leadership Lessons Learned; 12 – 1pm, HUB 145
iSchool Employers Hangouts and Info Sessions
- Oct 14: Illumina iLounge Hangout; 9 – 11am, MGH 416
- Oct 17: KPMG Info Session; 12:30 – 1:20pm, MGH 258
- Oct 18: Airbnb iLounge Hangout; 2 – 4pm, MGH 416
Info Sessions are formal presentations by the employer.
Hangouts are informal conversations with the employer.
UW Career & Internship Center
- Oct 9: Engineering Hiring Expo; 12 – 4pm, HUB Ballroom
- Oct 10: Business Career Fair; 2 – 6pm, HUB Ballroom
- Oct 17: Start up Career Fair; 3:00 – 5:30pm, Intellectual House
- Oct 21: HCDE Career Fair; 6:00 – 7:30pm (hours for NON-HCDE students), Hub South Ballroom
- Oct 23: Science and Engineering Career Fair; 11am – 5pm, Hub Ballrooms
UW Career Workshops and Employer Events
Other Career Events
- Oct 9: Alaska Airlines Day at Foster;
- Oct 10: The Greater Seattle Career Fair; 11am – 2pm, Seattle Center Note: this fair is not sponsored by the iSchool or the UW
Positions for Consideration
- Software Development Engineer, Sonos; Handshake
- UX Design Internship (2020), Lucid Software; Handshake
- Engineer, Software Development & Design, McMaster-Carr; iCareers ID 9496
- Seattle Public Library Digital Asset Management, Seattle Public Library; iCareers ID 9665
- Cultural Heritage Library Intern, US Department of State; iCareers ID 9667
Questions or feedback? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org | iCareers