Attending a job fair requires strategy and preparation. That’s why Jina Flores was on hand Tuesday to help steer engineering students through the process one day ahead of the Fall Engineering & Technology Career Fair in the University Student Union.
“There are huge crowds and lots of employers,” said Flores, lead career counselor at the CSULB Career Development Center. “Practice your pitch. There’s only a very small percentage of students who can wing it.”
This week’s job fair will feature 61 companies interested in hiring engineering interns or employees. “A lot of companies want to hire our students,” she said.
Before the job fair, Flores advised students to:
- Clarify their goals
- Research employers
- Develop a strategy
- Create a pitch
- Prepare your look, and
- Revise your resume.
She also suggested practicing that pitch, getting feedback on your chosen attire, selecting Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies you’d like to speak with, and studying a venue map so that when the job fair begins, you know exactly where to go.
The one question you don’t want to ask a potential employer is, “So, what does your company do?” Flores said that clearly shows an employer you haven’t done your research.
By the time you’re standing in line to speak to a potential employer, you should have spent time on the company website and be familiar with the products or services the company produces, whether they have any job openings, and if the culture seems like a good fit.
Although you should be prepared to deliver your elevator pitch when you get to the front of the line, often the recruiters will take the lead. “The majority of employers at the job fair are pretty nice,” Flores said. “Most will steer the conversation, but once in a while, you’ll get one who won’t.”
Flores suggests that students begin attending job fairs early in their academic careers to get familiar with the process. The goal is to get an interview, and to get to that point sometimes takes practice. “If you start off as a freshman or sophomore, it makes it so much easier,” she said.
If you encounter an employer on campus that’s not registered with the job fair, be leery, since they haven’t been vetted by the Career Development Center. And one last piece of advice: because the crowded room gets hot, don’t wear a sweater.