Careers Adviser Gaye Howells offers a brief insight into how to ‘tackle’ a Careers Fair.
The Careers Engineering, Science and Technology Fair takes place in The Forum at Trevithick over 3 days during October and 1 day in February. It’s YOUR chance to start making contacts and networking, scan the job market for your discipline and find out the best way to apply and tips for application success.
It’s your ‘job’ to ensure that employers know the extensive content of your degree and how transferable it is their company/sector.
Before the Fair
- Read the Fair guide. You can get up dated information on the Careers & Employability site. There will be a list of employers attending the fair so you can plan who you want to target
- Research the Companies of interest beforehand. Face to face you can really impress
- Remember, it’s almost a pre-interview, interview!
- Careers & Employability staff are there so if you need any help just come across for a chat.
At the Fair
Take your notes from the research you have completed and have a list of possible questions for the employers you are targeting then:
- Get stuck in! Employers really want to see motivated, interested, professional students
- Even if you’re nervous try and be confident, smile, shake hands firmly and get the conversation started
- Usually there will be someone from HR, possibly a specialist from that company and a recent graduate they have employed attending the fair
- Try not to ask a closed question such as ‘Do you recruit physicists/engineers/computer scientists, informatics students’?
- Try to make sure you discuss the relevant modules/experience as it relates to the role/company as part of the conversation about what they do (see below for questions to ask)
- No need for formal clothes but do think about what your image projects to a perspective employer. This could be company you end up working for!
- Take business cards offered or make a note of the name of the person you spoke to and, a contact address if possible. You might want to apply or follow up and, a name can be a really useful way ‘in’ to a company
Questions to avoid
Be sensible and don’t waste time with questions when that information is available on their web site. Try to avoid:
- What do you do?
- What ‘freebies’ have you got (this really irritated an employer at last year’s fair)?
- Why should I work for you? You do not want to appear over confident.
Questions to ask
- Can you explain the most interesting project you have undertaken? This question can lead to an interesting conversation as you can then introduce your knowledge/experience/modules and how they are relevant to the employer
- What is the culture of the business?
- What is the best way to make my application successful.
- When is your deadline ( if it’s not on their web site)?
- Are there opportunities to travel internationally?
- What areas do you specialise in?
If it’s a recently employed graduate attending you could ask:
- What challenges did you face in your first year?
- Would you do anything differently if you were starting the job now?
Questions Employers might ask you
A face to face conversation will inevitably lead to employers asking about you and your motivation. Some questions they may ask include your technology skills as well as:
- How did you become interested in us? Research beforehand is vital here.
- What do you know about us/ the industry?
- What are your career aspirations?
- Have you undertaken any voluntary work/work experience?
Don’t think of it as the end of that! Process the information and formulate a plan of action. Use the information you gained and think about how you want to use it:
- Are you going to apply for a graduate role/work experience?
- Does your CV need refining? You can get support from your Careers Adviser, Gaye Howells, at Trevithick and at 50 Park Place. Use: www.cardiff.ac.uk/careers and go to ‘Your Career Account’ to book an appointment. Gaye is also on twitter – @GayeatCareers
Good luck and remember, if you need any help just let us know.
Gaye, Careers Adviser
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Careers & Employability, The Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place, Student High Street