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!


Real Life: College to Career – Tyson

TysonRoss2Name: Tyson Ross
Age: 22
College and Graduating Year: Auburn University, May 2014
Current place of employment: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)
Current place of residence: Austin, Texas
Hobbies and Interests: Exercising, Outdoors, Sports, Friends, Food

Q: Did you start college with a clear idea of what you wanted your major to be? If so, what did that look like and how did that change during your time in college?

A: I started college with the idea that I wanted to do something in business. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do specifically, but I had 2 years of general business courses to decide. When it came down to the time that I had to narrow my choices, I chose to follow the Finance/Accounting route because it offered the most advanced business courses available. At the start of my last year, I chose to focus my major solely on Finance, while pursuing a minor in Information Assurance (IT Database and Accounting). I enjoyed the forward-thinking approach in finance and became increasingly interested in capital markets. I chose my minor because I enjoyed the practicality of accounting and felt that the knowledge of database/accounting software would provide a nice backbone for a wide variety of careers in business.

Q: Can you walk me through the detailed step-by-step process that you went through to get your first job out of college?

A: I started applying for jobs at the beginning of my final semester at Auburn. I had a fairly extensive internship background in commercial real estate, but it was not something that I wanted to pursue as a career. I reached out to various connections including relatives, family friends and acquaintances who I knew worked in the finance industry. I knew that I wanted to work in Austin, which narrowed my search down to several companies, as many of the finance roles in Texas are located in Dallas and Houston. I had connections through family friends at AMD and also at Dell, so that is where I started. I was able to get my resume into the right hands at both companies, expediting the process by a couple of weeks. I had initial phone screenings at both companies and was told to wait 2-3 weeks for a response. During this waiting period, I applied for several other positions at various companies including GM, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and others. I had an initial phone screening with DFA and was able to secure an interview over the same weekend that I was flying back to interview with AMD. Over Easter weekend, I had interviews with both AMD and DFA. Both went very well. Within 6 weeks of my interview with AMD, I received an offer for employment. I accepted and began work within 2 weeks after that.

Q: What aspect of that process was most challenging or stressful for you? Looking back, what advice would you give to college students to make this aspect less challenging?

A: The hardest part for me was that I did not apply to enough places. Sure, I used Indeed and various other job search sites, but those will not get you very far in my experience. You have to get out there and meet people and make real connections. You will find that people actually want to help you. The more personal time you have with someone who is part of the hiring process, the better. I was lucky enough to secure a job while only interviewing with 5-6 companies. If I were to do it over again, I would start much sooner. I would try to secure an internship in a relevant field. I would spending the majority of my final year in school applying to tons of places, even if I had no intent of accepting, just to become better at the process. There are a lot of people who look good on paper but lack the necessary social skills to succeed in a personal interview situation.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment or adjustments for you going from college to full-time employment?

A: The biggest adjustment for me was the structure that was added to my life, which can be good or bad depending on how you like to live. In college, I had freedom every day to do whatever I wanted. Besides exams, there were rarely any important deadlines and time was limitless. Now, I come to work for a set amount of time each day, do my job, and then go home to my personal life. I have grown to enjoy the new structure in my life and it has allowed me to appreciate my free time more.

Q: Do you have any advice for coping with these adjustments?

A: Embrace the change and get used to it.

Q: What are some of your current short-term goals?

A: Right now, I am focusing on expanding my professional career. Since starting work over six months ago, I have a lot more responsibilities. The only way to grow as a professional is to take on new tasks and take ownership of them. I know that I will make mistakes along the way, but I will learn from them and that is what matters.

Q: Is there anything else about your college and career experience that you would like to add?

A: College is supposed to be fun. Life is supposed to be fun. Do what you need to do but enjoy yourself along the way. No one is on their deathbed wishing they had studied more or worked more.

Hiring From the Employer’s Perspective Part 3: The Interview (What’s the Employer’s Approach)

As we discussed in Part 1 & 2, we want to walk you through the hiring process.

We have covered the Job Search and The Selection, now it’s time to focus on The Interview from the employer’s perspective.

A recent survey was done by Inc. magazine and the results published in their article, Where Money Meets Morale, where they asked America’s fastest growing companies how they hire and retain their best employees.

Interview Results:

  • Let the conversation flow – 33%
  • Focus on skills and knowledge – 25%
  • Focus on unique interests and competencies – 16%
  • Focus on personality – 9%
  • Use structured questions – 4%

What do these results mean for college students and recent grads?

Don’t let the word “flow” fool you, as this does not mean meandering or lack of a plan.  The interviewer always has a strategy to assess skills, knowledge, interests, competencies and personality. The key is to know ahead of time how you want to tell your story so it flows naturally within the timeframe scheduled.

Part II: Post Career Fair Findings

If you had internet in the early years, you may recall how frustrating it was waiting for dial up to connect you to the internet. Aside from the foreign screeching sounds, not being able to use the house phone, and the abysmally slow connection, dial up was my one source to the outside world that was worth the wait. That sums up how I feel currently after attending a career fair where most of the jobs were for internships, teaching positions, or careers totally unrelated to the field I am currently studying. 

The searching part thus far has been tiresome and frankly annoying. If you caught my last blog, I recently attended a career fair. To update you on the event, I went alone – which I felt like I needed to do to feel like the “big girl” that I am. The main advice I utilized was to wait until I visited recruiters for jobs I was moderately interested in before I worked my way up to speaking with the recruiters representing the jobs I most desire. I have to tell you, that was great advice. I was extremely nervous talking to the first recruiters for a teaching job. I stumbled a bit over my words, every sentence had awkward phrasing, I could not think of anything to ask and didn’t have anything written down. The job I wanted however, went off almost flawlessly (after practicing two more times with other companies of course.) I was able to look him in the eye the entire time he talked without feeling completely awkward, I asked knowledgeable questions about the business to let them know I knew about the company and I took them up on an opportunity to mix and mingle with current employers the following evening.  I even made sure to throw in a few things about his life to make it more personal. Even if I do not get that particular job, I learned a lot about my ability to speak well with others in nerve-racking situations. I was a bit disappointed that most employers were looking for interns, but that’s okay  – I am still on the hunt.

The next step in the job search process I hope will be an interview. I should have good news for you, but either way, I will give you the break down about all the prep and processes behind an interview.

Four Tips for Video Interview Preparation

Now that every laptop comes with a built-in webcam, video interviewing is now a convenient and cost-effective alternative for employers to use – especially during the screening process. Makes sure you’re ready!

  1. Practice using the technology and get comfortable with it – know how the audio and video controls work, what you look like, and where to look when the interview begins. You want to project confidence and credibility.
  2. Consider image and the interview environment—dress professionally as a video interview is an interview.  Remove items from your desk or wall prior to the interview that may be a distraction, silence your phone and turn off your music
  3. Test all settings and connections beforehand—make sure the settings are optimized and connections are working prior to the interview. If you know the Internet connection in your room is poor, select a quiet area ahead of time and test there.
  4. Be prepared for a system hiccup—have a Plan B ready in case the technology fails during a video interview. For example, have your cell phone ready to use in case the connection is bad or the call drops. Being prepared and making a smooth transition to another method in light of unexpected problems can impress an employer.

With the proper preparation you can stand out from the crowd and make video interviews work for you.

Top 7 Reasons to Initiate Informational Interviews

One of the best ways to find out about an industry, company, or specific position is to meet and talk with people in careers you are considering.  No one else can give you better insights to the opportunities and challenges in the industry and within a company

The idea of “informational interviews” was conceived by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the career bestseller, What Color is Your Parachute. He comments that most people select a career without ever having talked with people in the industry prior to interviewing for a job.  The result is that many do not find a great match for their passions, values, interests, and skills.

The informational interview should be a very purposeful and well thought out information gathering session with the goal of learning and gaining a networking contact. The session should be face to face.  Do NOT ask for or a job in this interview.

7 reasons to initiate informational interviews:

1. Gather information from knowledgeable and experienced industry experts on careers and specific roles

2. Discover the realities of working in the industry and company

3. Evaluate whether your skills, personality, lifestyle, and values are aligned

4. Ask for suggestions and feedback on what additional skills, knowledge, or experiences you need to acquire to be more valuable to this company or industry

5. Gain in-person interview experience and develop more confidence

6. Expand your network of contacts for future opportunities and get referrals

7. Get access to the hidden job market as over 70% of quality jobs are gained through networking


I Think I Can – The Power of Positive Thinking as Interviews Begin for College Students

I admit it…I love Pinterest.

I enjoy seeing the creativity of others, pinning another DIY project on my board that probably will never get started, and adding to my must read book list. My favorite though, is finding, reflecting on, and keeping inspirational quotes, posters, and artwork for reference.

As the interview season begins for college seniors, may we as parents stay positive, supportive, and reinforce the best attributes and strengths of our children.

This great poster I found on Etsy by Jill McDonald is a perfect reminder!



The Virtual Interview – The New Reality for College Recruiting

Interviews are stressful enough, but now college students must navigate new online recruiting tools to sell themselves to recruiters and hiring managers.

Due to decreased HR and travel budgets, ease of use, and time savings, many companies are turning to video conferencing tools to screen potential hires before moving to traditional face-to-face interviews in later hiring rounds.  In fact, video interviewing has increased 49% since 2011.

As this infographic from PGi shows, understanding best practices as it relates to video interviewing and body language is critical to interview success.

A few additional tips:

  • Be sure to test the technology before the interview
  • Check the lighting
  • Remove posters or memorabilia on the wall that may be offensive
  • Practice, practice, and practice!



How to Research a Company Before You Apply – 5 Things to Do

Since it’s more difficult than ever to get past a “phone screen”, it’s important that you focus on company research well before you contact a company, apply for a job online, or sign up for a campus interview.

5 Things To Do:

  1. Visit the company website – Take a an overall tour and pay special attention to the About section to get a good understanding of the company’s mission, culture, and leadership team
  2. Check to get high level company information and their competitors
  3. Go to and enter the company name to get the latest articles and press information on the target company
  4. Check to see if you or anyone in your network is connected to a contact at your target company.  Remember, it’s critical that you are on LinkedIn and have a professional, up-to-date profile first
  5. Follow your target companies on social media so you get all the recent news