For the past couple of years, I have always attended the career fair looking for positions and opportunities. Lately, my role has switched. After accepting a full time role with EY, I now attend career fairs and events as a Student Ambassador. This role requires me to talk with students and answer any questions they may have about an accounting career or about completing an internship.
I most recently attended a Mock Career Fair where I was the one interacting and speaking with students. Attending a career fair from the employer’s perspective is a completely different scenario. Instead of being nervous and anxious about talking with a prospective employer, you know you have to prepare yourself to evaluate students and prepare yourself to answer any questions they may have.
I imagine for most EY employees, attending a career fair or an event is no big deal. For me, I was still a little nervous and anxious as if I was actually attending a career fair looking for a job. I was nervous because I had never had this responsibility before. Collecting resumes, evaluating potential, answering questions — this seemed like a lot to handle! I was really nervous for no reason — talking to prospective students is actually a lot of fun and it is really interesting to talk to students who are genuinely excited about their future career in accounting.
After experiencing career fairs from both sides, I have a couple pieces of advice to give regarding attending career fairs and interacting with employers:
1) Know where you want to go – when you arrive at the career fair, it can be quite intimidating. Huge ballrooms filled with companies waiting for you to talk to them. It’s best to have a few companies in mind who you really want to talk to, that allows you to target a specific table or area.
2) Have a practice round – my advice is to not make your “number-one choice” the first company whose table you visit. Instead, pick another company as a warm up. This will allow you to get some nerves out and not risk messing up your chances with a company you really like.
3) Pay attention – make sure you keep up with conversation and remember what the representative’s background is. If they are in tax – don’t start asking them about audit. In this case, keep your questions more general and save the specifics for someone who can answer them better.
4) Know when to move on – career fairs are crazy busy, especially for top companies. If you have been talking to someone for awhile, make sure to leave in a timely manner. There are many other students in line and you don’t want to be known as someone who kept lingering and wasting time.
5) Follow up – if you really enjoyed the company, make sure to get contact information! This way you can email your thanks and keep up to date with opportunities when they become available.
Hopefully these help in the future job hunt! Whether you are talking to many employers or representing one company, career fairs can be very useful and interesting to attend!