Career fairs: not your average carnival

When you hear the words ‘careers fair’, you probably think of a bunch of very serious looking adults in suits with pamphlets and application forms, ready to pounce on unsuspecting undergraduate students at any moment. Well, I’m not going to lie to you, there are pamphlets, and some suits, but they aren’t super-serious people, and they most definitely will not attack or intimidate you.

Careers fairs are actually quite a bit of fun. I’m talking tea cup rides, balloons, and ice cream trucks, freaking fabulous right?! More than that, they’re very useful, and not just for those of us who are (shiver) graduating at the end of the year. So what happens at a careers fair and who should go to them?

The program

There isn’t actually a program, but depending on the set up, you’ll probably receive a map upon entering. On this map are all the companies who are there to see you, yes, you. A lot of people don’t go to these fairs because they think they don’t need them, that they’ll be too intimidating, or that they won’t know what to ask the many, many potential employers that are there. The companies that come to these fairs are here to meet potential employees, and it’s a great opportunity for you to learn about different industries, and different company approaches, values, and business strategies. That way, when it comes time for you to apply, you’ll know exactly what to say when they ask you how you feel you reflect company values, and what you can contribute to the company culture.

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The main point of a careers fair is to build industry connections between unis and companies, and companies and students.

Who should go?

Everyone!!! Yes, even the first years! Careers fairs are a great opportunity to learn about different fields that you might be interested in, and you may find that the degree you’re doing isn’t what you need to pursue your dream job, thus giving you the opportunity to transfer before you’ve wasted too much time. They’re also for internship seekers (aka penultimate year students); companies are always on the lookout for go-getters, people who actively seek out opportunities and take advantage of them. Lastly, they are of course for those students graduating at the end of the year, and if I’m going to tell anyone that they absolutely need to go to a careers fair, it’s this group. The company reps will give you any information you ask for, either in verbal or pamphlet form, and can also give you some sneaky tips on the interview process!

So, if there’s one coming up at your uni, schedule that baby in!

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