The University of Arkansas Career Fair for All Majors / Veterans Fair hosted by the University of Arkansas Career Services was an educational experience that served as a great introduction to the world of professionalism. This was the first career fair I had ever attended, so it was fresh and exciting to enter a room filled with recruiters who could potentially send me in the direction of a career path after graduation. Although the career fair is a great opportunity for students seeking careers upon graduation, I learned that preparation and presentation are key components of execution and making an impression on recruiters.
Before attending the event, it was important to see the businesses that were going to be present at the career fair in order to target the recruiters who you wanted to make an impression on. I highly recommend going to the business’s website and learning all you can about what a company represents and distinguishing the skill sets required for the job you’re interested in. Doing this not only allows you to cater your resume to the company, but it also helps you develop more rounded questions for the recruiter if what you found in your research interested your career choice. A student may end up walking up to recruiters with minimal questions and more confusion without the proper research preparation.
It may not seem that important, but the proper attire could make a difference not only in presenting yourself, but also with your mindset. I wouldn’t say I was underdressed for the event, but the majority of the other students made me stick out in the crowd and not in a good way. It made me feel self-conscious and I was already starting to doubt myself a little before I had even talked to any recruiters. My advice would be to look up the dress code for the career fair prior to the event or just standard dress code for this type of event. Also, it is also a good idea to wear clothes that aren’t too tight and allow your body to breathe. A combination of nervousness and a room filled with people can make you uncomfortable fairly quickly. Although it didn’t necessarily affect my experience, wearing the proper attire would’ve made the experience more comfortable.
When presenting yourself to recruiters, it is important to distinguish yourself from your peers. In my career fair experience, I felt more like a spectator than a participant. I went up to the Youth Village booth while it was empty and asked for an overview of the business. The recruiter described the business briefly and had me sign a piece of paper with my contact information. While I was signing, a female student came up to the booth and presented herself in a more personal way than me. The recruiter turned her attention to the female student and seemed disinterested in continuing our conversation. I think this was because I wasn’t really distinguishing myself as much as I could’ve. The same thing happened when I approached the Peace Corps recruiter. I would recommend that you ask as many questions as you can to make an impression on the recruiter. Otherwise, other people will ask all the questions that you didn’t and although you’ll hear the answers, the recruiter will be more interested in another candidate.
Although there were a lot of booths at the career fair I attended, there were more recruiters catering towards business students rather than a fair balance of majors, undermining the non-business majors. Sometimes, a recruiter would reach out to me and give me information about their business that was more business and STEM related, in which I would respond by asking if there were any positions for English majors. To this, they would usually say they weren’t looking for English students. It was disheartening to me and made me feel unwelcome to the environment. Since this was my first career fair experience, I’m uncertain whether or not recruiters act like this at all career fairs. Regardless, you shouldn’t let rude recruiters discourage you at a career fair. If you run into a rude recruiter, my advice would be to just ignore them and move on to the next booth. There will always be plenty of more booths with businesses that value you more and recruiters who are genuinely interested in you if you show interest in their company.
My first career fair went better than I thought it would. I never thought that attending an event would as helpful as it was. I would highly recommend attending a career fair for any college student regardless of class. It is a great learning experience that helps make a professional setting more comfortable for those seeking a career upon graduation.