Quick Prep Tips for the Fall 2017 Business Career Fair

The Business Career Fair takes place on September 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Student Center East Illinois Rooms.  When preparing to make the most of your time with employers, ask yourself these three key questions.

1.) How will I prioritize the employers that I want to talk to?

Look at the list of employers that will be at the fair the week before. There will not be time to speak to everyone, so rather than wandering around the room looking for a short line or a company name that you recognize, do your homework before the event. Research the companies you are less familiar with to see if they might be a good match, and learn more about the opportunities available at the employers you are familiar with. From there, make a list of your top three firms to meet and your next tier of five to seven.

At the event, start with your second-tier firms to “practice” your elevator pitch and build your confidence.  Plan to approach your top picks third or fourth once you are more comfortable and are ready to excel in the conversation. If you run into a line at a booth, don’t panic – consult your list. If they are in your top tier, it might make sense to wait in line. If not, try circling back later.

When learning about the employers, keep an open mind. Talking to a firm you knew less about at the beginning of your career fair preparation might spark an interest you did not know you had and lead to a strong connection.

2.) What’s my elevator pitch?

Like in an interview, the career fair will be a chance to stand out with an excellent 30-60 second elevator pitch.  This is where your research on the employers will pay off. Answer the question “tell me about yourself” by starting with your personal story, and tailor your answer to the specific employer.  Make sure to include your short-term and long-term goals, and explain why your experience would be a good match for their company.  Include something unique about yourself to make your conversation memorable and provide a good touchstone for your follow-up email.

3.) Have I thought about day-of logistics?

Once you have done all the hard work of researching employers and crafting your message, do not forget the remaining details. Confirm that your resume is up to date and without typos. Print at least 20 copies and make sure they stay crisp.  Have a clean sheet of paper for notes, or even have a spreadsheet with a simple note about your target companies with a place to capture one item you learned.  Put your hands on your business professional clothes the week before in case they need to be cleaned or ironed. 

And finally, relax! The career fair is all about making connections, and staying calm will ensure that your personality comes through in your conversations with employers.

For more interview preparation resources for UIC Business students, visit the UIC Business Career Center.