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A survival guide to a successful business career fair

Students+walk+through+the+aisles+of+business+displays+at+the+Iowa+State+Spring+Business+Career+Fair+at+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Feb.+8.++
Robert Dillon
Students walk through the aisles of business displays at the Iowa State Spring Business Career Fair at Hilton Coliseum, Feb. 8.

Whether students are freshmen pondering what their future may entail or a senior ready to begin a career in the real world, attending the business career fair can open a world of possibilities. 

Although many employers in one room may be intimidating for some students, the career fair can create meaningful connections and pave the path to a successful future.

“For people like me who are unsure of what their future may look like, the career fair is a great opportunity to get a good look into real-world jobs,” said Katherine Koller, a freshman in business undeclared. “It allows us to make great contacts or references for potential internships and careers.” 

The business career fair is from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday in Hilton Coliseum. The career fair enables students to build relationships, practice professional communication skills and learn about internships and full-time employment opportunities. Employers can network with students passionate about their major, promote their company or organization around campus and connect with promising candidates for job openings.

According to Business Career Services, students should take advantage of development opportunities and engage in business community service projects to prepare for the career fair. The Student Tips for Career Fair Success said the top-five best ways to prepare for the career fair are to research, prepare your resume, dress professionally, follow up to stand out and prepare questions.

“I have gone to the career fair every semester since I’ve been at college,” said Jacob Oertel, a junior in supply chain management. “I knew going in as an underclassman that it would be a struggle to get employers’ attention. I refocused my goal to connect with businesses so that I had established a foundation with multiple companies when I was an upperclassman. I can now have serious conversations about interviews and, ultimately, internship offers.”

Research:

According to Iowa State Career Fair Tips, research is an important part of preparing for the career fair. 

By logging into CyHire, students can find the list of companies and organizations attending the fair. Big-name companies, non-profit organizations and small businesses pay about $700 to attend and collect resumes from ISU students. 

Companies like Best Buy, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, John Deere and more will attend the fair. Creating a personalized list of companies and organizations hiring in students’ areas of study can be beneficial and may allow students to save time by going to specific booths. 

Prepare a resume:

A resume aims to quickly communicate a student’s qualifications and successes to a potential employer, and examples and templates of resumes are available on the Business Career Services for students to create their own for the career fair. Business Services suggests bringing around 10-15 resumes to pass out to potential employers to demonstrate a student’s value and skills. 

Follow up:

Asking for a recruiter’s business card and reaching out and expressing gratitude for having a conversation at the business career fair is highly encouraged and can leave a positive impression and show a student is truly interested in a certain position. 

“Afterward, we want students to follow up with each person they spoke with to have those connections for the future,” said Brooke Long, senior business career coordinator in the College of Business. “Making sure students have continuous conversations is how really good job seekers go about it.”

Prepare questions: 

Long said researching the companies attending the career fair that check all the boxes of a student’s interests allows students to come into the career fair with questions for potential employers. It allows students to gather information, demonstrate interest in a certain position and leave a positive impression of critical thinking skills on the employer. 

According to Long, freshmen are encouraged to attend the business career fair even if they aren’t necessarily looking for an internship or job immediately.

 “Career fairs are intimidating with kind of forced interactions, so if you can go and see what it is, it really will move mountains for you,” Long said. “People who aren’t actively job seeking can just go, observe, be brave and talk to just one person.”

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