Yes, Your College Student Should Go to Their Career Fair

It is August and parents of college seniors I talk with are anxious about their student’s transition from college to their career.The college career fair is an early opportunity to get going that all college seniors should be taking advantage of. However,  if you are in the same situation as these parents, you know that this is not a conversation your students want to have.  Eyes are rolling, and for most college seniors, the Fall Career Fair is not even on their radar. 

We know that career fairs are not all created equal, and many are not high quality, but not going to the job fair is a significant missed opportunity for your student. They all offer the opportunity to start engaging with prospective employers and to practice introducing themselves as young professionals.  More importantly, year over year, about 10% of our clients are introduced to their future employers at a career fair at college.

But the ones that get jobs through these events work for it.  They don’t just show up, they research the companies, they prepare their resumes, they dress the part, and they are ready to interview. In other words:

They take the opportunity seriously and are prepared!

Parents we know how hard it is to push your student to do something that they don’t want to do and this is no exception – but here are some ways you can help get them there. 

 Here is how you can help 

  1. Make it clear that you expect them to attend. Ask them to find out now when that first job fair is happening at their school. If they don’t know ask them to call career services and find out the details. It is worth pushing a bit here, despite the probability that eye rolls will ensue! 
  2. Ask them what their plan is to be prepared. Specifically, they need to have a strong resume and LinkedIn page, and they need to practice interviewing. If your student isn’t there yet, suggest that they make an appointment with career services for very early in September to get ready.
  3. Offer to go over the list of companies that will be attending the career fair. Help them think about which companies or organizations could be of interest to them so they can research their top five. 
  4. Take them shopping for appropriate clothing. Honestly, going now gets them, however reluctantly, thinking about what they need and practicing wearing clothes that can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable; and if they don’t have the right clothes they won’t show up. Most of them don’t have to be in a suit, but young men need pants other than jeans or sweatpants, a collared and button-down shirt, a decent pair of shoes and a belt. Young women need a skirt and top, or dress, or pan ts and top that are professional, and professional shoes. Important tip – no perfume or aftershave. They will be in small spaces where it is easy to overpower people with what they think is a light scent. They also need a portfolio to carry with their resumes and a pad of paper to take notes. Buy them that first portfolio. It doesn’t have to be expensive – they just need to have one. 
  5. Offer to get them additional help. If you feel like they need more support than they are going to get at career services, we can help your student get prepared in three sessions.  And here is the good news – the work that they do here preparing for the job fair will be very helpful as they start their job search. 

Most schools start their job fairs in the fall, and often in late September, so the time to start preparing for them is now! 

Feel free to reach out to us for a free session if you would like some guidance on getting your son or daughter to that career fair – and getting them prepared!  We can be reached at 60-98-7278 or at sue@launchingu.com.  

Happy end to the Summer!