Before the Fair
- Know who will be there. Look over the list of attendees and identify organizations you are most interested in pursuing. Find out what you can about the companies that interest you and what they do.
- Know what you will say about yourself, your skills, and what you can bring to the company. Describe specific experiences where you demonstrated your strengths; examples will make you a stronger candidate.
- Prepare your resume. Update your resume, and make sure that it highlights your most marketable skills. While you may update your resume before submitting a formal application, at this stage your resume is an important tool for the employer to remember you. Review OCS Resume Templates, and stop by OCS drop-in advising hours, Monday–Friday, 1:00–4:00pm, to get your resume reviewed by an OCS adviser.
- Attend OCS programs to help you prepare for career fairs.
At the Fair
- Dress to impress. We encourage students to attend events in "smart" casual or business casual attire. Examples include khakis, dress pants, skirts, button-down long sleeve shirts, sweater sets, blouses. Consult the OCS Dress for Success webpage, including example Pinterest boards for men, women, and those beyond the binary.
- Use good body language. Give a firm handshake, smile, and make eye contact when introducing yourself. Try not to fidget, play with your hair, rock from side to side, look around when talking or being spoken to, or chew gum.
- Speak with confidence. If it’s noisy, they can't hear you, and they won't remember you.
- Keep it short. On average, students spend five minutes with each employer. Leave yourself enough time to visit each table.
- Ask for a business card or write down the representatives' names. It’s also okay to ask about the hiring procedure; you want to make sure you're doing it right.
- Talk to as many people as possible. Explore all your options! Speak with organizations that you had not considered before.
- Eavesdrop. If you hear a recruiter describing a company’s work culture to another student, follow up with a question about industry issues instead of asking the same question.
- The early bird gets the worm! The slowest traffic for this event is typically in the first hour. Arrive at the start and avoid the crowd. Students who arrive later in the afternoon may end up disappointed that they missed speaking with someone who had a crowd around them or who packed up a little early.
- Cast a wide net! The fair is a great chance to compare and contrast many opportunities in a relatively short time (imagine attending a one-hour presentation by each of the participating organizations!). It is also a chance to practice talking to new people in a professional setting, a lifelong skill that you will need in any future job search or career, whether you want to be a professor, a programmer, or an artist.
After the Fair
- Follow up. Send a thank-you letter or email along with your resume; use the opportunity to reiterate how your background and skills match their needs. Consider using LinkedIn to connect with the contacts you made (Need to update you LinkedIn profile picture? Visit our LinkedIn Photobooth, available M-F, 1:00-4:00pm.) See OCS tips for making connections for more advice on building and maintaining professional connections. Reference someone you met at the fair in the opening paragraph of your cover letter. For example, “After speaking with Jane Doe at the Diversity Opportunities Fair, I know my analytical and communication skills will be a good fit for the marketing Internship role at WGBH.” You do not need to know the contact extensively, but be genuine in how you refer to him or her.
- Maintain contact. Companies, especially startups, are busy doing what they do and may not get back to you right away. It’s okay to send a reminder if you haven’t heard anything in a few days. Better yet, find an article based on what you discussed at the fair, or related to the organization’s industry, and send that along with your email. It shows that you are genuinely interested in their work and actually paid attention.