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Tips to help you make the most of today’s Career Fair

On Thursday, Northeastern’s wildly popular Fall Career Fair will be in full swing. The event, held in Cabot Center from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., will feature more than 260 employers looking to hire undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students for internships, co-ops, and full-time jobs.

Students can also learn about different career paths, and how to best represent themselves to potential employers and build a professional network of contacts, said Diane Ciarletta, director of career development. She also noted that the department offers résumé critiques during its open office hours, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Students are reminded to wear professional clothes and bring their Husky Card IDs, as well as copies of their resumés. All bags will be subject to search, so Career Development recommends not bringing bags to the event in order to keep things moving along.

We asked Ciarletta to share other tips for students on what to do before, during, and after the career fair to make the most of the experience.

Before

  1. Download the new app, Career Fair Plus, available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It contains a complete employer listing, interactive floor plan, event details, announcements for real-time updates, and a tips section to help you prepare.
  2. Create a top-10 target list. After reviewing the companies attending the fair, create a list of those you would like to visit. A good list should include between 10 to 25 employers.
  3. Research your chosen companies. Learn about their needs, challenges, products, services, and more. The best way to turn off employers is to ask them, “What do you do?” Instead, learn as much as you can about them beforehand and be able to indicate why you want to work for them.
  4. Prepare a two-minute elevator pitch that includes information about your previous experiences, outstanding accomplishments, and unique qualities. End with a question that the recruiter will then answer to make it a conversation. You can even practice your pitch at the pitch table before entering the fair.

During

  1. Impress employers by presenting a professional image. That means, if possible, wear professional clothing, bring résumés in a file folder or padfolio, and ask for business cards from each person you speak with. Don’t forget to turn off cellphones.
  2. Introductions should include a smile, firm handshake, and eye contact.
  3. Be independent—don’t walk around with your friends. You’ll look more serious and focused when approaching an employer by yourself.
  4. When making the rounds to your top 10 employers, start with No. 10 and end with your first choice. That way you have practiced your pitch several times and saved the best for last.
  5. While waiting in line to speak with an employer, listen to what the employer is saying to those people ahead of you. They will appreciate the fact that you’re paying attention and you may learn something useful.

After

  1. Take a deep breath and then take some notes on your conversations with employers. Send thank-you emails and reconfirm your interest in their companies.
  2. Circle back if you have not heard anything in a few weeks.