First Impressions: How to Ace Your Career Fair Experience

Spring semester means new classes, warmer weather and students getting one step closer to summer. It also means that campus is crawling with career fairs! Whether you are taking those first steps towards an internship or close to graduation, a career fair is the perfect place to network and discover all of the possibilities for your future. If you have never attended a career event, the thought of it can leave you feeling nervous or overwhelmed. There is no need to stress, we’ve got you covered! Here is our guide to career fairs. We hope it will leave you feeling confident and prepared.

The Resume:

Your resume is one of the most important parts of any career fair. A resume is a document that describes what you have to offer and highlights all of your best accomplishments, skills and experience. Your resume could potentially be the first impression an employer has of you, and you want to make sure you put your best foot forward. Luckily, OU Career Services is the ultimate destination for resume assistance. Students can visit their office Monday through Thursday, from 1:30-4 p.m. on the third floor of the Oklahoma Memorial Union to receive a resume critique from any of their Career Advisers. Their website also has some pretty helpful resources. Check it out at! 

The Look:

Since career fairs are all about first impressions, it is important to look professional and polished. Career fairs require the same attire as an interview. Leave your jeans and t-shirts at home, and avoid being too flashy with your color choice and accessories.

Women’s Professional: wear a two-piece, dark, matching business suit with a light colored blouse or button-down shirt. Your hose should match your skin tone and your shoes should be closed-toed, low-heel pumps.

Men’s Professional: wear a two-piece, dark colored business suit with a long-sleeved, light colored shirt. The width of your tie should match the lapel width and end at the top of your belt. Shoes should be dark colored and polished.  

The Approach

There is no shame in practicing your game! Being prepared will only leave you feeling less stressed and more focused on the information you are trying to absorb. Here are a few helpful tips:

Practice your handshake. This might seem silly, but it is important to approach a potential employer with as much confidence as possible.

Practice your “Elevator Pitch.” You only get a short amount of time with each employer. An elevator pitch is when you describe yourself in 30 seconds or less, similar to the amount of time it takes to ride in an elevator. During this time, introduce yourself and highlight your field of study. Quickly touch on your experience and skills that would set you apart from other candidates, and end with your career goals. For example:

My name is Meredith and I am a senior public relations student. I am currently a Social Media Intern at OU Housing and Food Services. I specialize in blogging and content creation, and I am looking for a position that will put my branding skills to work.

Spruce up your online presence. All OU students have access to a virtual career center called Handshake. Here, you can build a profile that features your resume and allows you to be searchable by potential employers. Not only is it a great way to connect to job and internship positions, it also allows you to keep track of all upcoming career fairs and the employers that are attending.  

The Game Plan:

A career fair will be filled with many other students who also want time with each of the employers. If this sounds overwhelming, you can always create a game plan.

Research the employers attending the fair. Now that you have a handy Handshake profile, you can easily see the list of employers attending. Take some time to review their company profiles and see what majors they are seeking. This will allow you to prioritize your time and stay on track in the sea of pamphlets and information tables.

Ask for business cards. Your conversations will be short and sweet, but they don’t have to end there! Asking for a recruiter’s business card will make it easy for you to follow up with a handwritten thank you letter and ask questions later.


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