Prepare for the Fair
ADVICE FROM EMPLOYERS
- "Talk with employers. We want to learn more about you and your career interests. Even if you may not be clear on what your career will be at this point, it's a great opportunity to learn what jobs are out there and great practice talking with employers!"
- "Just be yourself. Be confident in your skills and the experience you've worked so hard for. You should be so proud to have your resume and be ready to talk about why you want to work at that company."
- "Don't take each company at face value. It's easy to go there with a one track mind, thinking you only want to apply with specific companies. Each company there has multiple opportunities, in multiple avenues, even if it's being advertised as healthcare, teaching, or manufacturing etc."
Before the Fair
BEGIN PREPARING FOR THE FAIR
- Update your current resume, or create a new resume.
- Take at least 10 copies of your résumé printed on high-quality paper.
- CLA Career Services provides résumé critiques for any CLA student. No appointment needed.
- Attend one our Prep Events for tips and best practices.
RESEARCH THE ORGANIZATIONS/COMPANIES ATTENDING THE FAIR
- Check the Fair’s website or contact the organizers for the list.
- Plan to target three to five organizations that truly interest you.
- Once you’ve selected organizations to target, research basic information like: the size of the organization, general history, mission, product(s), target market(s), policies, and competitors. This will make it easier for you to talk to (and impress) representatives from these organizations.
Where to find company information:
- The company’s website and annual report (often available online)
- Public or local business libraries. Try the U of M Business Reference Library (http://busref.lib.umn.edu), or the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul
PREPARE A BRIEF INTRODUCTION SPEECH
Practice 1-2 sentences to introduce yourself with at the Fair and a firm handshake.
Your script should include:
- Class (first year, sophomore, junior, senior)
- A brief summary of your skills
- Knowledge of the organization/company
- Opportunities you seek
- Relevant experiences (work, internship, volunteer)
- Relevant personal goals
“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a senior studying Global Studies and International Relations. After studying abroad in Spain and interning as a marketing assistant, I’m interested in working with your company as you expand your products internationally.”
“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a junior studying English. I’m looking for an internship that will help me continue to develop my leadership skills, and I’d like to learn what it’s like working at a big company. Your internship program sounds like a good fit for me and I’m excited to learn more about it.”
PREPARE QUESTIONS TO ASK COMPANY REPRESENTATIVES
Use the research you conducted to ask thoughtful questions. Examples:
- I saw on GoldPASS you’re looking for a ____. Can you tell me more about this opportunity?
- I went online and filled out your application for the ____ and I am really interested in (employer name). I was wondering what else I might do to get into your organization?
- What are the most important qualities, characteristics or skills you look for in employees?
- Can you describe the company culture?
- Do you have internship or job opportunities for someone in my major, or with my interests?
- May I follow up with you after the fair?
During the Fair
- Look professional! Dress as you would for a formal interview.
- Visit your top choices last. That way you’ll be warmed up and less nervous by the time you talk to them. If you have enough time after that, explore a few other organizations at the fair.
- Be confident and professional.
- Be responsive to questions.
- Listen carefully to learn information relevant to future interactions with the organization.
- Don’t interrupt recruiters who are talking to others: Read their literature while you wait, or come back when they’re less busy.
- Refer to your leadership roles or volunteer experiences.
- Request business cards (This will be helpful for following up after the fair).
- If no business card is available, ask to reach out via the contact info on the fair materials.
- Don’t grab a business card and walk away: Take the time to network, even if the job opening isn’t quite what you’re looking for.
- Take notes about your interactions with employers.
- Use your notes later to mention specific information in thank-you notes and cover letters you send. This will also help the company representative remember you later.
After the Fair
- Send thank-you notes within 24 to 48 hours after the fair.
- Refer to the name, date and location of the fair, and any unique points discussed to jog the rep’s memory of you.
- Reiterate your qualifications and interests in the organization and position(s).
- Proofread and have a friend review your thank-you note.
- Include your résumé if you think it’s appropriate.
Career Fair Don’ts
- Don’t leave your cell phone on as this is irritating to recruiters.
- Don’t ask about salary or benefits as it’s too early in the process.
- Don’t come to the fair with friends or relatives, and don’t send someone else on your behalf.
- Don’t come to the fair with less than an hour left, you might miss the opportunity to talk with your top choices.
Guidebook App for the CLA Internship & Career Fair
Have all of your CLA Internship & Career Fair information at your fingertips! Download the CLA Internship & Career Fair Guide through the 'U Minnesota' Guidebook App.
For International Students:
Please make sure to read all of the information on the "Prepare for the Fair" page, not just the information for international students contained in this section; all of that information is important for you to have the best possible experience at the Fair. We do understand, however, that being an international student (one who will eventually require sponsorship in order to work in the U.S.) presents some unique challenges. To help you respond to those challenges, we have prepared a few resources that are specific to the international student experience at job fairs. Make sure you take full advantage of these as well as visiting your college career center for a resume review and practice introducing yourself.
Video: Succeeding at the University of Minnesota Career Fair
Career Fair Do's and Don'ts for International Students
- DON"T Begin with "Do you Sponsor?" DO let the employer raise the issue of sponsorship if they are interested
- DON'T Begin with "Do you hire international students?" DO begin with questions that will get a conversation started and let the employer learn what you bring beyond being inetrnational
- DON"T Begin with "Hi, I'm Punit and I'm from India." DO begin with an introduction that emphasizes your qualifications for the job and the company
- DON"T Begin with "Hi, what does your company do?" DO showcase the research you have done into the company and your fit for it
- DON't Go up to talk to recruiters in groups or pairs. DO go one at a time
Answering Common Employer Questions About Sponsorship
"Do you need sponsorship?" or "Do you need work authorization?"
- "My education visa cover me for internships. I don't need any authorization or sponsorship from an employer."
- "My education visa covers me for X months during which time I do not need authorization or sponsorship from my employer. After that I would need my employer to file for a work visa, but I expect by that time to have really demonstrated my value and my fit for your company."
- "I would not require sponsorship or any additional paperwork or expense to work for you as an intern. If, as I hope happens, I do such a great job that you want to keep me on for fulltime, then I would ultimately need sponsorship."
And, at the fair:
Do you know what work options you have with your visa status? Do you know how to explain your options and needs with a potential employer? Be sure to visit the ISSS information table in the Student Lounge to get the information about work options for F-1, J-1, and H-1B visas.