5 Things To Do Before You Attend A Career Fair

It’s that time of year again…school is back in session. The oppressive heat of summer has been replaced with…the oppressive heat of fall.  #PSL is in the air, the lattes, and literally everything else you can possibly ingest. That means it’s time for FALL CAREER FAIR SEASON! We thought we’d share a few simple things you can do to prepare and make the most of your experience when we visit you on campus this fall.

The Cogo career booth at MIT

The Cogo career booth at MIT

1. See Who’s Going To Be There

Can you show up to a career fair and just wander around, deciding which companies to talk to based on the free stuff they’re giving away?

Yes! And there’s nothing wrong with that approach! But if you want to make efficient use of your time and maybe feel a bit less overwhelmed about the sheer number of opportunities available to you, it’s not a bad idea to spend a few minutes the night before looking up which companies will be at the fair. See if any of them particularly grab your attention, so you can prioritize conversations with them.

We always get a lot of questions along the lines of “So who are you and what do you do?” Which is fine! We’re a smaller company! We get it! And we love talking about ourselves. But it’s always very impressive and memorable when someone demonstrates they’ve looked at our website and already knows a little bit about Cogo.

2. Plan Your Outfit

What should you wear? Do you want to look like you belong in the more formal corporations, or like you’d be right at home in the less formal tech scene? What about your individual style and fashion sense, don’t they matter at all?

Cher from Clueless

Cher from Clueless choose an outfit

Career fairs can be tricky to dress for. Our advice is to split the difference, skip the suit and just go for “presentable.” You want to look put together, but you’ll also be more relaxed and more yourself if you feel comfortable. Don’t overthink it: a nice shirt, pants/skirt, shoes. Boom, you did it! Honestly as long as you don’t show up in pajamas or gym clothes you’ll be fine.

3. Collect Your Materials

You’re a student and it’s the 21st century. Do you need to print out a bunch of resumes? Or deal with having business cards to hand out? 

Some companies don’t want paper resumes and won’t take them from you. Some might direct you to a little computer kiosk and have you input everything electronically. At the Cogo career fair booth, we don’t mind the paper resumes, because we can take notes on them during our conversation with you, the better to remember you when we get back to the office.

So it might be a good idea to print some out just in case companies want them, but you certainly do not need to shell out to have them printed on the extra-fancy paper. Think about all that trees do for the world… and choose wisely. 

But do you need business cards? Honestly, even people who work in business rarely need business cards.

A guy who is upset about business cards

A guy is upset about business cards

4. Refine Your Pitch

What if you see a company at the career fair that you actually want to talk to? What should you say to them?

It’s hard to know exactly how to begin a conversation with a potential employer. Some people go minimalist: stating their name and their degree, then going silent, waiting for the recruiter to fill the space, and in a dream world, offer them a job on the spot.

Some people go maximalist: touting their accomplishments, one after the other, without pausing for breath, while a line forms behind them. Perhaps they think that if they box all the other applicants out, the company will be FORCED to offer them a job. Who knows!

We get – and would hope - that you study hard and can list off your academic achievements (and you’re exactly the type of person we want)! But that’s not all we want to know about you--what are your interests, quirks, dreams and ambitions? Beyond degrees and academics, what else makes up who you are?

Our favorite part of the resume is the “Interests” section. Everyone has something unique about them, and knowing that helps us get to know who you really are as an individual, apart from the hundreds of other people we meet at any given career fair. Include some interests on your resume, and not just the generic “Netflix and food”, get creative and real and dig deep!

5. Think About What’s Important To YOU

But what about your needs? What else should you be thinking about in order to figure out which opportunities are worth pursuing?

Telling the recruiters a little about yourself is only half the conversation. Just as important, if not more, is for you to learn as much as you need to about the companies you’re meeting. Please please please: come with questions for us!

What can we tell you about Cogo to get you even more excited about applying? What did you see on our Twitter that you want to know more about? We'll be more than happy to tell you all about our internship program, the different positions we're hiring for, and the tools and tech we use here. But only if it's useful to you! You’re deciding on a job! A career! It’s a Big Life Decision! Think about what types of information are going to be most useful in helping you make this decision.

OK! Now you’re ready for your career fair! We look forward to seeing you out there.

If you want to talk to Cogo in person, click here for a list of career fairs we’ll be attending this fall!

The Cogo career booth at Wellesley

The Cogo career booth at Wellesley