It’s that time of year again. As Lehigh’s 26th annual Career Fair approaches, students searching for internships and jobs are preparing to meet representatives from a variety of companies and organizations. The Brown and White asked two experts from the Career Center, Candice Sierzega and Rich Freed, and business student and entrepreneur, Matt Sheffield, ‘17, about the best practices for the Career Fair.
Q: What companies are coming?
Rich Freed: So far we have 153 companies registered with a vast range of industries including companies like Amazon, Crayola, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Vanguard and W.L. Gore.
What do you suggest students do to prepare for the career fair?
Candice Sierzega: View the list of companies that are attending the Career Fair and add the ones that you are most interested in to your (top 10) list. Be sure to view which majors they are targeting and what opportunities are available. Utilize your targeted list of employers and follow their company page on LinkedIn.
Matt Sheffield: Before the Career Fair, make sure you update your resume to include this past summer’s experience, any new clubs and leadership positions, as well as your up-to-date GPA. Depending on your major, your resume might be formatted differently. Finance and accounting types of majors may want to stay with a more conservative style, but marketing, design and others like it can consider standing out with a unique layout.
Q: What should students bring?
RF: A positive attitude and a practiced handshake, and a developed and well-practiced “elevator speech” that is essentially a 30-second commercial about yourself. And 25 or more copies of their resume depending on how many companies they are targeting, and a couple of questions to ask the employer.
CS: A nice portfolio, or bag for women, to carry your materials, your student ID and resume for entry into the Career Fair, and targeted resumes with related experience sections that are specific for the industries you are interested in.
What should students be prepared to talk to employers about?
RF: Develop a list of questions that are well thought out, and incorporate some research you were able to do on the company prior to attending the Career Fair.
CS: Talk about what you found from conducting company research: What stood out from the company’s website/LinkedIn? And, if you saw on LUCIE that the company was not targeting your specific major, you can talk about how you have related experience and skills that are applicable.
MS: This is your chance to stand out. Some of these employers are going to meet over 100 students, and you want to be remembered. I talked to one of the recruiters at the Career Fair last year who admitted to marking interesting candidates’ resumes and separating students into two piles — interview and not. Spend 15 minutes beforehand to develop your pitch. In 30 seconds or less convey what you’re studying, your leadership and work experience, and then a unique fact which a recruiter could remember you by.
What should students wear?
RF: Wear a conservative suit — pants or skirt for women — and “dress to impress.” Avoid excessive cologne/perfume and jewelry, and avoid low neck lines on women’s attire. Men should be wearing a suit with a tie. Wear shoes that are shined, but are also broken in as you will be standing for a few hours.
How should students follow up with employers after the career fair?
CS: Send an email thanking them for their time and highlighting something specific you remembered from your conversation, attend the company information sessions and if you asked, connect with them on LinkedIn to follow up.
MS: If a recruiter gives you their card make sure to follow up in the days after the Career Fair. A simple message thanking them for talking and potentially reiterating something interesting you learned about the company goes a long way in showing your interest. If you end up applying for a job or internship this leaves the door open for you to email them at that time to let them know. It’s a lot like applying for college. If the recruiter likes you, they can flag you for more consideration in their system.
The Fall Career Fair is Sept. 17 from 3-7 p.m. at Rauch Fieldhouse on Goodman Campus. Students can take shuttles leaving from Grace Hall to the fair.