My team member, Vivienne Nguyen recently attend a Bridal Expo and she writes about the similarities of the Expo and a Careers Fairs whilst providing graduates with some important tips!
Warring Bridezillas vs Competing Grads – they’re more similar than you think!
With the first semester of university underway and April approaching, you just have to look around to see that we’re smack bang in the middle of the exciting grad recruitment season! With Careers Fair out on campus, uni society networking events and employer advertising everywhere you look, it can be overwhelming for students looking for a vacationer or graduate position.
Only recently I attended a Melbourne Bridal Expo, filled with brides and their family and friends all clutching their flyers and giveaway bags, setting their eyes on the giveaways and jostling for position to speak to the company and supplier representatives in the highly competitive industry. Squeezing my way through the crowd, I was greeted by a big enthusiastic grin and “HI!” at each booth with many jumping straight into their sales pitches without even pausing!
Now imagine that scenario – a company at each booth with colourful banners with friendly, well-dressed reps. A table filled with promotional flyers and giveaways, maybe even a bowl of lollies (to keep up their energies, and yours!). You may be hearing some bells ding right now about now – is this starting to sound familiar yet? Well it should, because this describes your typical Careers Fair!
Similar to getting married, a graduate position will be one of the most important stages of your life – although different, they both signal a new beginning! So you want to have an authentic conversation with someone who can understand this and who wants to know more about you – what you’re studying and what you’re hoping to get into, rather than someone who’s after the hard sell. Ask your questions and listen to their experiences – you want to walk away knowing that you’ve gotten as much out of it as you can.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and lost when attending a Careers Fair. The first Careers Fair we attended was the Melbourne Big Meet where we saw just under 2,500 students stream through the door in 4 hours! Whether you’re attending another Big Meet or your smaller university’s Careers Fair, look around and you’ll probably see students walking around holding a map of the exhibitors and not knowing where to start. Here are some tips that might help you avoid this.
1) Prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask!
This might include how long their program is, what training and development is provided, their career advancement opportunities, whether the role is permanent, their salary and benefits, the type of work that might be expected – the list just goes on and you want to come away with as much information as you can. Some grads come prepared with pen and paper to take notes – that’s dedication, and we love it! You might be visiting different stands armed with the same questions but without notes, you may feel slightly manic by the end and only remember bits and pieces from the different employers. Let’s avoid that!
2) Think about which employers you want to talk to
Often before a Careers Fair you’ll receive notice of which employers will be there. Think about which ones you’d like to approach, and do some research on them and their grad program – that way when you make a beeline for them, you’ll feel prepared and more confident speaking to them. Some employers will have current or past grads on their stands from different disciplines to talk about their experiences. Remember that it’s not only a chance for them to meet you, but for you to meet them as well and potentially get a sense of their culture, enthusiasm and dedication to their grad program.
3) Introduce yourself before anything else
Rather than just coming up to our booth and launching straight into asking “can you tell me about your grad program?” introduce yourself first! We want to know more about you – your name, what year level you’re in and what you’re studying. This will give us the best ground to provide information that is best for you and will increase your chances of being remembered by giving us a great first impression!
4) Present yourself well
No, we don’t mean suits and tails – although some of the snazzy grads who have approached us have been decked out in impressive business attire! What we mean is we’re looking for grads who come to us prepared, enthusiastic and with a sense of purpose. Remember that employers will be looking for keen grads who among other things, have great communication skills and can engage in a conversation. This may be the only time we meet you before you put through your application – so smile like you mean it!
With these above tips, you can now confidently head into your next Careers Fair – good luck and we hope to see you there!