Your Career Fair Checklist

Dr. Joseph Barber, Senior Associate Director

If you want to make the most of your career fair experience, then try to achieve as many of the following steps as possible:

1. Find the dates for our upcoming fairs on Handshake – they are all listed right here: https://app.joinhandshake.com/career_fairs

2. Click on each of the fairs and gently browse the various employers who have registered, or do a more targeted search using filters such as job types, school year, major, and industry.

3. Take some time to think about some of your career fair goals. Are you exploring, networking, looking for information, checking in with employers you have already interacted with, or applying? And yes, you might well have different goals in mind for different employers.

4. Create a list of employers at each fair that you want to connect with. It doesn’t have to be a long list. You may only want to speak to a few, and that is perfectly fine, as it can still be an incredibly valuable use of your time.

5. Now that you have a preliminary list, you will want to prioritize it. You can sort the employers into different industries if you are exploring multiple career paths, and you can identify the employers that you are most interested in, those you are a little less interested in based on what you know, those you want to learn more about, and maybe have a few that you are just somewhat curious about.

6. Here is a really important step – do research on all of the employers you have listed. Look at their website to know what they do and how they do it. Look at the jobs that they have posted on Handshake. Look at the jobs they have posted beyond Handshake (LinkedIn the “careers” page on their website are good places to start). Create a list of smart questions you hope to ask (smart means not questions that can be answered through easy online research).

7. Since you cannot just walk up to a table at a career fair, ask a bunch of questions, and then run off without saying anything, you need to work on the narrative you are going to use when introducing yourself to employers. Make a list of information you want the employer to know about you. Again, this might be different for different employers. Put it all together into a well-structured narrative. Practice your introduction aloud, and do it several times until it sounds and feels natural.

8. Think about what you want to wear. You don’t have to be in a suit, but you still should look professional. Think about which companies are at the top of your prioritized list, and try to dress in a way that their representatives will be dressed at the career fair. For example, representatives from law firms that come to campus looking for PhDs to be patent law specialists typically dress in suits. If you turn up in jeans and a t-shirt, you will create an obvious, visual disconnect.

9. Have a good resume to share. This will usually be a document used as a shared reference for your discussion, rather than the document that is used for an actual application, but it should be good enough to do both. Get your materials reviewed before you go to the fair.

10. When you arrive at the fair, choose one of the employers that is lower down your list of priority organizations to ease yourself into the process – this will help you to practice your introduction one last time, and to get a sense of the timing of the interactions that you will be having with employers at the event. Since some fairs can be busy, the next employer you meet with should be one of your priority organizations.

11. Don’t start by handing someone your resume – start with a strong handshake and good eye contact. All employers have name tags on, and you can even start with a strong “Hello Julie, thanks for being here today…”. Did I mention that your handshake should be strong and confident…, and dry! Find out more here: https://ulife.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/blog/2018/04/04/handshaking-a-guide-to-making-the-right-impression/

12. Introduce yourself, ask some smart questions, share your resume, ask for a business card, and offer to follow-up with an electronic version of your materials. Thank them again, shake their hands, and move on with a smile!

13. Within 24 hours, and if you have their email address from their business cards, send a thank you email thanking them again, telling them why you found your conversation together helpful, and sharing anything that you said you would share. You might learn something about an internship or a job from your discussion at the career fair that makes you want to change something in the general resume you took with you to the event in order to better highlight your fit for a particular position.

14. Make sure you apply for specific jobs you talked about at the fair through Handshake, and some companies will need you to apply through their websites too.

15. Celebrate your successes. Think about what went well from the fair, and plan to improve on what didn’t go so well when it comes to the next career fair you go to. There are quite a few of them each semester. An appointment with a career advisor can help with this.

Good luck with your networking and information gathering, if these are your primary goals for your career fair experience, and make the most of your conversations to update your application materials if you are actively applying for positions.

Spring In Review

J. Michael DeAngelis, Information Resources Manager

I can hardly believe that there’s just four days left in the spring semester! It’s a great time to look back at all we’ve done together in the last four months!

Enjoy these last few days of the semester! We’ll start making new memories together in September!

Managing Career Fair Jitters: First-Gen Stories

Alyssa Perkins-Chatterton, Assistant for the College Team

Career Fair and recruiting season here at Penn is fast approaching! I remember quite vividly my own experience first attending a Career Fair as a student. I was a first-generation college student and throughout my time at school, I was lucky enough to have supportive mentors that I could turn to for guidance when needed. However, this did not ease my anxiety any less when it came to the idea of walking around a crowded gymnasium, in an uncomfortable suit jacket (which I did not own), talking to strangers about why they should hire me.

The night before the fair I remember pacing around my room practicing my 30 second pitch and also stressing about what to wear. After pulling everything out of my drawers, I decided that I had nothing that would work and that is when panic wave #2 set in. I thought to myself, “Well, Alyssa, this is a sign, looks like you aren’t going to the career fair tomorrow.” Luckily, I worked my way through that ball of stress, and my roommate graciously offered me options from her own closet to choose from.

By the time the fair rolled around I felt as though I had been through every emotion, but I also felt confident going into the day. I had prepped my resume and I felt as though I had a firm grasp on what I was going to say to employers that I met. Let’s be real though, career fairs are intimidating. You are surrounded by your peers in a packed room, all trying to impress recruiters who you hope will offer you a job. I am happy to report that I made it through the event and even left feeling good about the connections that I made throughout the day!

This time of year can be stressful, which is why Career Services tries its hardest to offer as many opportunities as possible to prepare for fairs and upcoming recruiting events. In addition, we are so excited to be offering the Quaker Career Wardrobe again this year! Come see us on Thursday, September 7th from 10:00-3:00pm down in the On-Campus Recruiting Suite to pick out a free professional outfit that you can keep! We are also offering many Career Fair Prep workshops leading up to the events this semester to don’t miss out on those!

Career Fair Prep Workshop, Friday, September 8th 3:00-3:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 11th, 12:00-12:30PM | Huntsman F45
Career Fair Prep Workshop, Monday, September 25th, 1:30-2:00PM | McNeil Room 97

And, if you can’t make any of those, check out our podcast on Mastering Career Fairs. It is okay to feel overwhelmed during this time of year, but know that Career Services is here to support you throughout!

CS Radio: “Episode 34 – Career Fairs x3”

Our hosts a reunited and it feels so good! It’s week of career fair madness at the University of Pennsylvania!  Michael and Mylène cover what to expect at the Creative & Common Good Career Fair, the Start-Up Fair and the Spring Career & Internship Fair!  Learn what to bring, how to dress and how to interact with employers in the moment and after.  Plus, the usual rundown of what else is happening this week!

Enjoy!

 

Have You Considered Working for a Startup?

Tiffany J. Franklin, Associate Director

Startup fever seems to be everywhere these days, whether it’s an episode of Shark Tank or watching Silicon Valley on HBO. Entrepreneur centers are popping up all over the country and the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are filled with stories about these types of companies. Have you ever considered working for a Startup?

With the Penn 2017 Startup Fair being held in just a few weeks (Thursday, February 9th in Houston Hall, 11am – 3pm), it’s the perfect time to explore the world of startups.

Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, defines a startup as “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Definitions on Investopedia describe companies in early stages of operations in which founders “attempt to capitalize on developing a product or service for which they believe there is a demand.” Inherent in these descriptions is the element of risk in conjunction with great potential.

For many students, working at a startup serves as an invaluable part of their internship experience. Some become enthralled with that world and choose to remain in that sphere for years (either as employees of startups or entrepreneurs founding their own companies), while others leverage the experience and go on to more established employers. In either case, working for a startup will provide you will a wealth of examples of how you have demonstrated competencies that employers value. For example, since wearing multiple hats is the norm, you will likely work on numerous projects across functional areas. This provides an opportunity to show how you demonstrate initiative, adaptability, problem solving, and teamwork, among other skills.

As with any job search, it’s important to evaluate the values that mean most to you to see if the startup world could be a fit. Career Services has an excellent values exercise that is helpful to review both at the beginning of your job search as you evaluate offers. In addition, it’s important to conduct due diligence on the company just as you would with any potential employer. You want to ask yourself some of the following questions that Ann Fisher outlines in her Fortune article – “7 questions to ask before joining a startup.”

  • What’s my tolerance for risk?
  • What stage is the start-up in now?
  • Has the enterprise shown fast growth so far?
  • Who’s in charge?
  • Who’s funding the company?
  • Will I have a mentor?
  • What will my role be?
  • Do I have the right personality to shine in a start-up?

There are a wealth of resources available to help you learn more about startups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infographic Source: http://blog.gojobhero.com/10-best-startup-job-boards-infographic

Working for a startup can be a rewarding experience that is invaluable to your career progression. If you would like to learn more, Career Services is holding a workshop/panel called “Job & Internship Search: Startups” on February 2nd from 12-1pm in Huntsman Hall, G50. Hope to see you there and at the Startup Fair on February 9th!