Internship Fair Prep Guide

WHAT TO EXPECT

Career and internship fairs provide candidates with an opportunity to meet employers from a variety of industries and receive first-hand information about the organization and available positions. These fairs allow employers the opportunity to view a large number of potential candidates, which aids in the pre-screening process.

EXPECTATIONS OF YOU:

  • Knowledge of the company/organization
  • Professional dress
  • Ability to answer questions at the fair
  • Ability to ask appropriate questions
  • Follow up after the fair

PREPARATION:

RESUME: If you do not have a resume already prepared, be sure to have one written and reviewed before attending the internship fair. Some employers will collect resumes, and some will refer you to their online application. Have a clear, concise resume (one page is preferred), and easy to review by a reader within a short amount of time. Be sure you have enough copies for the number of companies you wish to visit and a few extras. Even if you don't have one or don't know how to make one, don't despair; you can learn from one of the workshops or professionals at the fair. 

ATTIRE: Many employers expect professional business attire for a career fair. It is not mandatory, but we recommend it. 

NETWORKING: Be prepared to talk about your career interest areas, strengths, and educational background.

QUESTIONS: Prepare a list of questions. Questions may range from specifics about the organizations to work tasks of specific positions. Based on your research, determine what you need to learn about the employer to decide if you are interested.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK THE EMPLOYER

  • What types of internships are available within your organization in the technical area?
  • Can you tell me what characteristics your most successful employees have?
  • What is the hiring process for your interns?
  • What types of training are provided for new interns?
  • Is there an application I need to complete in order to apply for this internship?
  • If I have additional questions, whom may I contact?

AT THE FAIR

  • When you arrive, view the layout of the fair, noting the location of companies you want to meet. Plan your strategy for visiting with your top priority companies, making the best use of your time.
  • Be patient. Some employers will have a line of candidates waiting to visit with them. You may visit with another employer and come back later or use this time to review the company literature as well as your questions.
  • Listen. While waiting in line, you will have the opportunity to listen to employers. You can hear what questions other candidates are asking and the responses to these questions.
  • Act professionally. Introduce yourself and use a firm handshake and genuine smile to begin the conversation. Do not interrupt others that are in conversation.
  • Answer questions directly and concisely. The conversation should be two-sided, with both parties asking questions and providing information.
  • Ask well-thought-out questions from the list you prepared. You may think of additional questions as you circulate through the fair.
  • Take notes. You will be able to use these after the fair to assess your interest in certain organizations or compare organizations.
  • Be positive. Even if an employer doesn't sound like a good fit for you, be gracious and thank them for their time.
  • Collect business cards and company literature. You will be able to use these to do further research as well as to send an application or thank you note after the fair.
  • Network! Please keep an open mind while you talk to employers, as they may be able to provide you with resources, ideas, and contacts.
  • And most importantly, relax and have fun! 

AFTER THE FAIR

  • Send a thank you note within two business days via e-mail, LinkedIn, or email.
  • If an employer has asked you to complete an application, send transcripts (or other materials) or contact them, be sure to do so within two business days. Failure to follow through will most likely eliminate you from the candidate pool.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  • You get only one chance to make a great first impression!
  • Rarely, if ever, are companies going to extend an offer immediately. Do not expect it!
  • Internship fairs offer the opportunity to present yourself to potential employers and the opportunity for you to interview them!
  • Be confident!

THINGS TO AVOID

  • Unprofessional/inappropriate attire
  • Not asking the companies any questions
  • Questions about salary
  • Lack of goals or career direction, preparation of questions, enthusiasm, or interest in a company
  • Taking the freebies and walking away
  • Poor communication skills (eye contact, speech, interrupting others, weak handshake)
  • Waiting until the end of the fair to arrive