Dress the Part for Your Career Fair and Interviews

We’ve all heard the familiar adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” For better or worse, this is accurate, especially as it relates to career fairs and interviews.

As the world becomes more casual, it’s hard to determine when business professional or business casual attire is appropriate.

We’ve made it easy! Check out this great resource created by the McCombs Business School to learn everything there is to know about dressing the part along with pictures.

It’s a great way to guarantee that you will be judged on the your academic achievements, experience, and skills, not your attire.

Stand Out at Your Career Fair with Student Business Cards

Career Fairs are a challenge as there are so many people to meet and so little time! Make the most of your college career fair by presenting business cards to recruiters and hiring managers in addition to your resumes, as you will reap the benefits.

The benefits are many:

  • Recruiters know you planned ahead
  • More likely to get a business card in return
  • Easier to follow-up with since you have accurate contact information

Information to include:

  • University and college within it (if applicable)
  • Formal name
  • Major
  • Graduation month & year (great news- underclassmen can use them again)
  • Email address (use .edu email address as it identifies you as a student
  • Phone number

Where to purchase:

  • Check your career center first as many universities are providing this service
  • Vistaprint for inexpensive, yet professional cards
  • Moo for rounded corners and more template choice

Check out our example below

Remember, this shouldn’t be a wild and crazy exercise unless you’re pursuing an internship or job in a creative field. Even then, adhere to best design principles, as you want to be remembered for the right reasons!


What Company Culture Fits You Best?

What things are you looking for with company culture?

There’s been a big shift from cubicles to collaborative workspaces and 8-5pm work days in the office to flexible schedules and remote offices.

As work environments continue to evolve, it’s important for students to think about what company culture and work setting will allow them to thrive and do their best work.

Things to think about as you talk to companies and go on-site for interviews:

  • Size of the company and the office (in terms of people and space)
  • Workspaces – do they facilitate collaboration?
  • Amenities – can you get a great cup of Jo in the morning?
  • Vibe – is it casual or formal, friendly or stuffy?
  • Employees – can you see yourself spending a lot of time with them as over 30% of your life is spent at work

Remember, assessing the environment is important, as only you know where you feel most comfortable.

What are Soft Skills and Why do They Matter?

Employers want students with soft skills – what does that mean?

Every week there’s a news article about the need for college students to have effective communication and interpersonal skills. But, what does that really mean? How do you acquire and then demonstrate these skills to employers?

Let’s focus on 5 key communication skills employer’s want:

  • Ability to carry on a conversation
  • Ask pertinent and interesting questions
  • Listen actively
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Write effectively

Once you know what employers are looking for, you can search out opportunities where you can practice these skills.

Ideas where you can practice:

  • Join a club or organization and volunteer in areas such as recruiting, new member events, or a speaker series where you have the chance to meet and introduce guest speakers
  • Take advantage of opportunities to meet 1:1 with your professors or TA’s to build relationships and practice these skills
  • Get a part-time job or volunteer for a non-profit where one of your responsibilities is engaging with customers

Everyone can acquire these skills – some of us just need more practice than others! How do you plan on growing and developing these soft skills?

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day weekend! Did you know this holiday was created to celebrate the contributions of American workers – 125M and counting. If you’re searching for a job, be sure to check this link here to see what industry sectors are growing or shrinking. You always want to be with a company and industry that is growing!


Invest in Yourself

Invest 30 minutes in yourself and find out what your strengths are with Strength Finders 2.0. Plus, it’s a top 5 business book and employers may ask about your results. Take the online assessment here and get immediate results or order the book online here to get your access code! Then go celebrate as you learned something significant about yourself!

5 Career Fair Tips for College Students – Planning and Practice are Keys to Success

Yes, we know, it’s hard to get excited about Career Fairs. They are stressful, overwhelming, you may be competing against your classmate or good friend for face time with the recruiter, and it’s impossible to talk to all the companies that attend and be memorable. There are just too many people and not enough time.

We understand. That’s why we want you to forget about your past experiences and biases and try something new this year.

Have a plan

Review the list of companies that are coming ahead of time and rank the companies, prioritizing the ones you are most interested in first.

Get business cards
Many schools offer this service to students so check with the career center first. If not, head to www.vistaprint.com for the best value in business cards. It’s impressive to the recruiter as it shows you planned ahead, plus you’re more likely to get a card from the recruiter if you present one first. It’s also much easier to follow-up with each contact after the career fair too.

Prepare a pitch
Your pitch needs to be focused, short (60 seconds or less) and memorable and should have 4 key parts:

  • Introduction: Introduce yourself, offer a firm hand shake, a resume and a business card
  • Objective: Tell the employer why you are there and what sort of job/internship you seek
  • Summary: Briefly summarize your education, experience, strengths, highlight something unique or memorable
  • Closing: Reiterate your interest and thank the employer, tell them you’ll stay in touch

Review your checklist

  • Pen and Notebook
  • 12+ resumes
  • Business cards (can be stapled to resumes if preferred)
  • Copies of your unofficial transcript (optional)
  • Copies of list of references (optional)
  • Appropriate clothing – check the career center guidelines
  • Small breath mints—no gum!
  • A positive attitude

Practice first

Before going to talk with your favorite company, practice your pitch and engage with 1-2 other employers first. Think of this as your warm-up. Afterward, go out in the hall, reflect, and jot down notes on how it went. Makes small adjustments if needed, then go confidently to talk with your favorite companies.

Can’t wait to hear how your career fair went!



Thinking About Your Future: What industries or markets do you like?

Now that you’ve decided where you want to live or the city you want to target, it’s time to think about the industries and markets you may want to work in.

Yes we know, it’s a big, complicated question!  Let’s break it down into small parts (peeling the onion as I say) so you can feel good about making some small decisions that still move you forward.

Ask yourself a couple of these questions and jot down your thoughts:

  • What products or services do I love?
  • Do I want to work for a company that sells products, services or both?
  • Do I want to work for a company that markets to consumers, businesses, or both?
  • What big markets do I like? Consumer products, financial services, clean energy…?
  • Are there any market verticals I don’t like at all?

It’s amazing how time spent on just a couple of questions can provide clarity and direction for your job search process.

To help, check out the industries hiring the most college grads here.

We’d love to hear what industry you want to work in!



Thinking Of Your Future: Where Do You Want To Live?

“It’s the most dreaded question at a family reunion, party or lake house weekend with friends and family. What’s your career plan?

Feelings of fear and anxiety begin to arise as you answer something along the lines of, “I’m still figuring it out”.

The job search process is always going to be a little stressful, but it’s comforting to know that you can take a different approach. Think targeted vs. ad hoc, proactive vs. reactive and most importantly, relationship vs. online anonymous driven.

To start, ask yourself, “Where do I want to live?”? Be honest! Would you really move to X city away from family & friends to work for Z company. If you answer “Yes” with confidence, you are company driven. Most students are not as flights are expensive, arrival times unpredictable and vacation days limited. It’s much easier to target companies if you have made a geographical decision first, even if it’s multiple cities.

If this exercise still seems too overwhelming, write down cities or states where you would never want to live. The cities you pick may change for internships vs. full-time post grad employment, but this is an important first step in the job search process.

Click here to here to see the best cities for new college grads to help with your search!

Where are you planning on going after graduation? Leave your response in the comments below.

Job Search Tips: What Companies Do You Love?

Everyone has a brand affinity or obsession with a product or company – think about your sleek water bottle, favorite cooler or new mobile app. Why not research these companies first when starting your job search process? Your passion for the product will be apparent in your communications and interviews. Do what you love!

What companies do you want to explore? We can’t wait to hear what’s on your list!