Career Fair Success Tips from Wasserman Career Ambassador

Rex Hsieh

Rex Hsieh is a sophomore studying Economics and Mathematics. He has a passion for studying businesses and macro-economics. When not studying, or working as a Wasserman Career Ambassador, he enjoys writing fiction and poetry, touring art museums, and solving mathematics problems!

Maybe you have been to a career fair before; if so, you know how it is: students and employer representatives, eager to showcase themselves, mingle with each other for an entire day, rambunctious rooms/halls, innumerable literature/employer materials, countless resumes, sundry “business casual”-styled combinations, colourful banners…even the air feels a little humid. The entire thing looks, and feels, like a vast chaos—only a well-thought-out one.

If you have not been to one before, here are two things you should know:

1. It is difficult to define what good that attending a career fair will give you. Because this is so frequently asked, it is important to know what a career fair is. It is an opportunity for two interested parties to know more about each other: students (who are usually vested in knowing more about job openings), and employers (who are looking for potential hires, sometimes with full-time opportunities). Both parties reap benefits from knowing more about each other. It is hard to know if attending a career fair will be good for you, especially for job-seekers (career fair does not guarantee one to be hired!), if you do not know it is essentially a gigantic networking session (more on this later).

2. And this almost goes without saying—everyone attending is well prepared. Imagine a meandering queue of dozens-plus students, all intent on meeting one employer representative (say, Delta Airline). Not only do you have to wait for your turn to talk to the representative (perhaps up to half-an-hour), you do so knowing that others—as well prepared and ambitious as yourself—are pitching to the representative as well.

However, these are not written to dissuade you from attending the career fair at Metropolitan Pavilion this fall; far from it! Anyone—and, really, everyone—can stand to gain from attending this event! There are a few things you should be actively planning from now on. Here, I have broken them down to “must-do”, “must-remember”, and “smile.”

MUST-DO
1. Pick out formal attire to wear. Business casual will generally be okay. Professionalism is always a plus!
2. Read up on the employers who will be attending. About a week or two before the fair, Wasserman Center will have a list of participating employers. Study what they do. Know what you want to ask. Be as specific as you can when crafting your questions. Employer representatives will be genuinely impressed if you show interest in what they do, and who they are!
3. Print out copies of your résumé (and maybe business cards). Know that this is a mingling section; you want the employers to know as much as they can about you, as time permits. Giving them a well-written CV will help! Having a business card definitely adds to your professionalism (more on this later)!
4. Prepare a short pitch. In short: be ready to talk about your strengths, skills, interests—in addition to who you are, why you are here, and how much you welcome the representation to the N.Y.U. campus!
5. Plan out a number of options. Time is nobody’s friend; if you cannot arrive early (to the fair), think about whom you really want to meet, and prioritize them. If your original plan does not work, go for another one! Maximise your gains by planning out your options first!
6. Be ready to listen. What I have found to be unfortunate, especially at career fairs, is students’ reluctance to listen to others. Students generally have a marvellous speech planned out, so they do not want to be interrupted. The truth is, the employers may have impromptu, spur-of-the-moment questions for you! Listen to whatever they say. Be a good listener, because that quality appeals to everyone!
7. Take the employer pamphlets/literature. One important reason: you never know what interests you, or what openings an employer have. It is unlikely that the representative knows every opening there is; your best shot at knowing as much about them as possible is through reading their literature. After all, they are for you.
8. Follow up with employer representatives. It is important to treat the conversation you have with representatives as, perhaps, your opening conversation. Follow up with them, and discuss with them the opening(s) and why you would like to be considered. Important: network with employer representatives; do not interview them.

MUST-REMEMBER
1. Know your directions at the day of career fair. The employers you want to talk to are unlikely the ones situated closest to the entrance. Be prepared to study a map of employers. Find them as soon as possible, when you arrive. This will alert you of the crowds or queues of people around employers! Again, this increases your flexibility on the day of the fair.
2. That you are unique. Someone is bound to recognise how special you are. Everyone has a unique value, which only he or she can bring to the table. Just be sure to talk about your extra-curricular activities, affiliated communities, work experiences, connections, and so on, when appropriate.
3. Career fair is a giant networking session. As mentioned before, career fair is essentially a networking event. The aim of a networking event is to know what you can offer to others—not what they can offer you. Think about what you have to put on the table for employers. Demonstrate what you can do for others. Be courteous with others, and be professional (because you also represent NYU)!

SMILE
No one likes to associate with someone who is serious or rigid, especially when it comes to first impressions! Rather, put on a smile. And, use appropriate body language—like giving firm handshakes and making eye contact—while exercising restraint (i.e. don’t overdo anything). Always be aware that you should try and leave representatives the impression that you are a gregarious, warm person. Representatives are likelier to tell you tidbits, if they not only find you a good candidate for open positions—but also like you as a person! Smiling appropriately adds a touch of professionalism for you.

It is important to know that being at a career fair is, as the word “fair” suggests, like engaging in the sale of “goods.” Ask yourself what you have to offer—because employers are here with their job openings. If you try asking yourself the question hard enough, you will get the best answer there is. The hardest thing is always to put some effort before any result takes place. But once you do, you can, almost doubtlessly, expect returns. Start now. Yes. Don’t wait. Go ahead. And be at the fair this fall! See you there!

NYU students from all majors and programs can attend this year’s Fall 2016 Job and Internship Fair. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Find out more by logging into NYU CareerNet.