As a recruiter at VMware, I define a student’s success on whether or not that student is able to leave a lasting impression with an employer during the career fair. As a student, there are two goals to keep in mind that will help you successfully navigate a university career fair: 1) learning relevant information about an employer, such as available growth & development opportunities, 2) and leaving a positive impression of yourself with the company representatives.
Here are five recommendations you can follow to achieve these goals:
1. Know who you’re talking with and ask relevant questions.
Different types of company representatives come to career fairs. You could be speaking with an HR representative, a recruiter, an engineer, or someone else. Once you know who you are speaking with, you will be able to better shape your questions. For example, an engineer is a great person to discuss technical project work with while a recruiter is the best person to ask about hiring timelines.
2. Don’t just ask what the employer can do for you, but tell the employer what you can do to drive what’s next for their company, its people, and the larger community.
Tell company representatives what you’re specifically looking for in terms of project work and why you are qualified to do this work. Research companies beforehand in order to have a concrete idea of what opportunities they have to offer you. After stating what you are most interested in, ask the representative if there are current opportunities for the kind of work you are looking for.
3. Learn more about the university program.
At VMware, we have extensive benefits for interns and new college graduates. Make sure that you ask company representatives what it is like to be an intern or new college graduate at their company. If you ask a VMware representative, they will say that beyond exciting project work, we offer additional benefits such as 1-1 mentorship, networking events with senior leaders and executives, educational opportunities, and much more.
4. Seek advice.
University career fairs are a great opportunity for students to get advice straight from employers themselves on how to take an individual to the next level. If you have time, ask an employer what they think of your resume or how you can further your experience to get closer to obtaining your dream job. Employers may provide resume critiques, advice about courses to take, or topics to research in order to propel your career forward.
5. Collect business cards and follow-up.
It is important to conclude your conversation with a clear path about next steps. Ask the company representative for a business card or social media information (i.e. LinkedIn or Twitter) so that you can follow-up with them. Additionally, ask if there are any other steps to take in order for you to be considered for open positions. If a representative tells you to apply online, make sure to follow through, as this will only help the employer help you. Many employers require candidates to submit an online application through their career website for compliance reasons so that candidates can be officially considered for open positions. Finally, if you do get a business card, you should send a follow up email with your resume and a thank you note to stay top of mind to the company representative after the career fair ends.
Overall, make sure that you’re prepared so that you can be confident when speaking with employers. You never know what opportunities could arise from your time at on-campus events, so make the most of them. You could end up speaking with an employer who was not originally on your list to speak with, and by taking advantage of this opportunity to gather more information about the company during the campus event, you will be better equipped to determine where you can bring your innovative ideas to life and grow professionally.
See you around campus this semester!
About Allison: Allison Steinkopf is a University Relations Recruiter who works out of the VMware Austin, Texas site. She is a recent Austin transplant from California who loves to explore new restaurants and all that Austin has to offer.
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