5 Career Fair Prep Tips

By: Lorne Bobren, Technology & Design Career Community Advisor

The DePaul Career Center hosts several job fairs each year. The companies who attend are eager to learn about your qualifications and why you may be a good fit for their company. Whether you are looking for a full-time job or an internship, here are some tips on how to best prepare for the next fair:

1. Create an action plan

Job fairs at DePaul can have as many as 40-60 companies attend. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll connect with all companies attending, so the best approach is to review the company list on Handshake and make a list of 3-5 target employers. These companies should be your primary focus while attending the fair.

2. Research

One of the worst things you can do at a fair is ask a company, “What positions are you hiring for?” This information is easy to find on Handshake and the company’s website. Once you’ve created your target list of employers, you should review the company’s website, mission, social media, and job openings. This information will let you naturally converse with companies at the fair rather than asking questions that are found online. Show the recruiter you did your homework and that you’re genuinely interested in the company.

3. Have your resume reviewed

Having a polished resume prior to the fair is essential. Some companies may host on-campus interviews a few days after the fair or look to bring in candidates for onsite interviews a few days after the fair. The best way to ensure you’re prepared is by visiting the Career Center prior to the fair to have your resume reviewed.

4. Develop a 30 second pitch

You’ll have limited time to speak with recruiters at job fairs, so it’s best to develop a quick pitch that summarizes your skills and interest in the company. The purpose of an elevator pitch is to create a brief, impactful message that touches on the following key points:

  1. You! Your most important characteristics and interests
  2. What you can offer to the employer and workforce
  3. Your goal in connecting with the individual or company you’re pitching

Think about what qualities you possess that will leave an impression and bundles your strengths, what you can offer, and your intentions.

5. Connect with alumni mentors

DePaul’s ASK network is a great way to calm nerves and relax prior to the attending the fair. Alumni mentors are available before and during the fair to help with crafting your elevator pitch, resume reviews, and tips on how to approach employers.

 

Careers fairs may seem a bit intimidating, but creating an action plan and following through that plan is the best way to enhance your experience!

Career Fairs are Going Virtual. Are You Ready?

As technology continues to advance, more employers use virtual career fairs as a way to connect with a wider pool of candidates. They aren’t bound by geography; they are able to instantly meet with prospective candidates from all over the globe. So, what does that mean for virtual job fair attendees?

Virtual job fairs can take on several different formats. You may be navigating an elaborate virtual environment made up to look like a real-world job fair or you may simply have a list of employers with links to their job postings. Some will have virtual chat rooms that allow you to interact with recruiters while others may offer live video chat. It’s important to research the format in advance so you know how you will be interacting with employers.

It’s important to research the format in advance so you know how you will be interacting with employers.

If video chat is being used to interact with employers, ensure that your webcam is set up properly. Dress like you would when interacting with employers face-to-face and be cognizant of what the webcam can see behind and around you. Yes, this might mean that you’ll have to clean your room. Throw away those empty pizza boxes!

If employer interaction takes place in a chat session, make sure that you’re using professional language at all times. Sometimes people can mistake a chat room for casual conversation, but always remember that you aren’t talking to your friends. Avoid using slang and emoticons. Consider having prepared answers to stock questions (ex: “What is your greatest strength?”). That way, you can cut-and-paste to save some time on having to type out the same answer several times over.

A great advantage that you’ll have in a virtual job fair is that you can keep notes right in front of you. You can have talking points prepared as well as info on the company and the position. If you know the name of the person you’ll be speaking with beforehand, you can even have notes on his or her background. Along with your pre-prepared notes, be sure to take copious notes during your interactions with employers. Make sure that you know what steps you need to take next and jot down contact info of all company representatives you interact with.

If you still have questions, make sure you schedule an appointment with your career advisor! Your advisor can help you navigate a virtual or in-person career fair as well as assist you with fine-tuning your elevator pitch, resume and networking approach.

Just-in-Time Tips for the Just in Time Job Fair

Every year in June, the Career Center hosts the Just in Time Job Fair, an event for students to learn about job and internship opportunities—or, in the case of graduating seniors, immediate full-time gigs. Employers from multiple industries will be seeking applicants with various majors and levels of experience, so it’s a great opportunity for anybody who is seeking employment as the academic year comes to a close.

Given that this particular fair is an ideal fit for just about everyone, it’s even more important that you prepare in advance as to increase your chances of standing out.

Here are four key tips for maximizing your job fair experience and wowing recruiters.

Research Companies in Advance

Prior to every major job fair, a list of organizations that will be in attendance—along with company bios and open position descriptions—is available on Handshake. The day of the fair, this information is also available on our CareerFair+ app and in a physical program you can pick up at the registration table. Even with this information at their fingertips, some job seekers will walk up to employers and ask questions like, “Who are you and what are you hiring for?” Given that the answers to these questions and others like them are available in advance, it can make a job seeker seem unprepared and make for a weak first impression.

Before speaking with any employer, take some time to review the company bio and have a basic understanding of the types of positions they are hiring for. Better yet, consider researching the company website, as this will allow you to gather even more background. With more information and talking points under your belt, you will feel more confident approaching representatives, and ultimately it will lead to stronger conversations at the fair.

Bottom line: An intro like, “In researching the company website, I noticed that you seek applicants with x, y, and z experience. I’d love to share with you how my experiences position me as an ideal match with what you are looking for,” will stand out more than, “So what exactly does your company do?”

Practice Your Pitch

In addition to thinking about what types of questions to ask employers, you want to also prepare how to communicate your background and experiences. When an employer says, “Tell me a little about yourself,” what they’re really looking for is something closer to a 30-second pitch. What is that and how can you master it? Here are quick steps for creating your pitch:

  1. Begin with a current perspective (e.g. “I’m a junior at DePaul majoring in accounting…”).
  2. Then, share recent experiences (this could be a sentence or two about a past job or internship, a relevant course project, and/or involvement in student organizations).
  3. Finally, end with how these experiences and your future goals directly correlate with the company you’re speaking with.

Practice makes perfect, though. We will have Career Center representatives available the day of the fair to help you perfect your pitch.

Devise a Plan of Attack

Before stepping foot inside the fair, take some time to plan out not only which companies you want to speak with, but the order you want to speak to them in. This is important because you never want to start with a company you’re most passionate about. Instead, choose an employer you’re interested in, but whom you would also feel comfortable “warming up” with; this way, if your nerves get the best of you, there’s still time to make a strong impression with your “top” employers.

Another factor that might impact whom you speak with right away is traffic. Some companies will have a longer line of students than others, which may also mean that you have a limited amount of time to make an impression. If employers have smaller lines, this may mean that you can have a lengthier conversation, ask more questions, and ultimately make a stronger impression.

Collect Business Cards & Follow-up

Make sure to collect business cards from everyone you speak with, and send them a thank you email within 24-48 hours after the fair. Many applicants know to do this after a job interview, but neglect to do so following a career fair. Sending a brief thank you email is a great way to reiterate your interest in the company, as well as highlight any specific information that was shared that piqued your interest. Since a smaller portion of job seekers will think to do this, it can help you stand out even more following the fair.

Remember, take some time to research company representatives in advance, and consider stopping by the Career Center to have your resume reviewed beforehand. Before jumping into the fair, think about how you will communicate your experiences in a brief, 30-second pitch. And, if you want to practice your intro and networking tactics, visit a Career Center rep at the fair—they’ve got your back.

4 Opportunities to Mingle with Top Recruiters This Winter

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

If one of your goals this year is to build a more career-ready you, here are upcoming events that will help you gain exposure to recruiters, learn about open positions and get noticed from top professionals.

Go kick butt this winter.

Careers in Technology
January 25  |  5-7 p.m.  |  DePaul Center, DePaul Club, 11th floor

Interested in exploring career paths with professionals in the technology industry? At this event, you will have the opportunity to gain insights into the tech trade and its career paths, and participate in round table discussions with representatives from Microsoft, Razorfish, Intel Security, Citigroup and more. Get the details, here.

Winter Internship Fair
February 10  |  10 a.m.-2 p.m.  |  Lincoln Park Student Center, 120AB

All DePaul students and alumni are welcome to participate in this career fair. Recruiters from multiple industries will be seeking qualified candidates for internships in a variety of capacities. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, CME Group, Hyatt Hotels, US Foods and others. Plan ahead and learn more.

Education Fair Consortium
March 1  |  3-6 p.m.  |  Lincoln Park Student Center, 120AB

DePaul is teaming up with the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University to bring employers, schools and districts to our campus; these employers are seeking teachers, administrators, advisors and counselors for current and future openings in all areas and levels of education. Visit the event in March, and start networking with top representatives in education. Learn more, here.

Creative Job & Internship Fair
March 7  |  3-6 p.m.  |  DePaul Center, Concourse Level

This mini career fair presents a unique opportunity to network and connect with creative industry professionals and recruiters. At this event, you will learn about current and future full-time, part-time and internship positions. Students majoring in animation, design, cinema, journalism, marketing and music, to name a few, are encouraged to attend. Discover which employers will be attending by visiting Handshake.


The DePaul Career Center hosts career-related events, workshops and fairs all year long. Keep an eye on Handshake and be the first to know about upcoming career events on campus, and around Chicago.

Job Fairs for Introverts

By: Ellen Barrett, DePaul University women’s and gender studies major ‘17 and peer career advisor

Networking is about finding connections in every corner, and using any opportunity to make the most of those connections. It’s not about walking into a job fair and feeling as if you’re forcing yourself upon employers; networking should feel like a natural process, one in which your curiosity and genuine interests are your best traits. Job fairs are the perfect way to make connections. You may not get the job you want right away, but that’s not the only reason why job fairs are so important.

Remember you are worth their time

Recruiters are at the job fair because they want to talk to you. They know you are a student and don’t expect you to have much professional experience. No matter how inexperienced you may feel, though, you do belong there. Remember, a major reason job fairs are important is because the employers you meet are capable of providing you with invaluable connections.

If you are only going to the fair because you want a specific job being advertised with one company, then you’ll automatically have a major advantage by meeting the employer face-to-face compared to your competition who is sitting at home filling out the same job application. I always recommend students to visit the job fair even if they’re not looking for a job at that moment because you never know whom you’ll meet or what conversations you’ll have.

Creativity engages your audience

Are you a storyteller? Telling a quick story about a positive, related experience you’ve had at work or school is a great tactic for networking, as it shows that you’re able to recognize your skills and accomplishments. For example, “As a communications intern last spring, I developed a marketing strategy that increased our social media following by 200%, which is why I am now interested in pursuing business marketing and learning more about your team’s current projects.” If you don’t have any internship or work experience, you can talk about class projects or coursework instead.

Set small goals to overcome anxiety

Psychologists will tell you that avoidance of a fear only increases anxiety, and this is also true in the case of job fairs. You can begin to overcome your fear of fairs by setting small goals for yourself. Make a goal to meet with 2-3 companies, for example. Know that you should always have some background knowledge about the company before you walk up to their table.

The dreaded elevator pitch

Keep it simple. The employer should know who you are, but also what you are looking to learn from them. Introduce yourself with your name, the degree you are pursuing, and explain why you are interested in their company. You don’t need to go into extensive detail about everything you’ve done and hope to accomplish, but if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the company, it should show.

Workshop your way to confidence

Use DePaul resources to prepare for the fair. Check out Handshake for upcoming Career Center events, including the workshop, “Maximize Your Job and Internship Fair Experience,” which is usually held the same week as all job and internship fairs and designed to teach you the skills to make you confident when approaching employers.

The final touch

Ask for the recruiter’s business card and send a follow-up thank you email. Reflect on the conversation you had and what stood out to you. Thank them for their time, and show your enthusiasm about their company by mentioning one part of the conversation you found particularly interesting or exciting. An example might be, “I really enjoyed learning about your strategies for creating engaging social media initiatives, as this is a skill I’ve been interested in developing since my experience as a communications intern last spring.” This is a best practice for introverts and extroverts alike.


Meet with a career advisor today, and learn ways to overcome job fair anxiety and gain the confidence you need to have meaningful conversations at your next career event.

Is Your Resume Career Fair Ready? Let’s Find Out

By: Lynn Gibson, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and DePaul University marketing graduate

DePaul’s first major career fair of the season is days away—are you ready? Your time with each recruiter will be limited. So, using every moment strategically is a worthy goal. Making a great first impression will “condition” the recruiter to expect a good conversation; so, appropriate attire, good posture, eye contact, a firm handshake and a smile are your first steps toward achieving that goal.

After the introductions, it’s time to get down to business. This is where your resume takes center stage and provides the foundation for answering the one question in every recruiter’s mind: Why should we call you in for an interview?

When anyone looks at a written document, they start at the top. And, just like your “visual” first impression conditions a recruiter, so does what they read first. So, how does your resume create a positive impact that influences recruiters desire to know more? It starts with a compelling summary that highlights your strengths and values.

Here are two before and after summary sections. Can you see the transformations?

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While your summary is the key to getting recruiters’ attention, your bullet points are what reel them in, and what will get you the interview. These points should validate your brand and potential to add value in two ways:

  • They define the scope of responsibilities and the types of challenges you have faced in past experiences.
  • They identify specific accomplishments and achievements.

Here are examples that illustrate ways to make the most impact in the experience section of your resume.

Accounting Intern

Recorded and tracked financial transactions using QuickBooks Software. Wrote checks, made deposits, and prepared monthly bank reconciliations to prevent accounting errors. Helped prepare an annual financial report, enabling a firm to assess its financial status and compute tax obligations. Computed taxes owed and prepared a corporate tax return using Drake Tax Software.

  • Met all deadlines and expectations by accurately completing a wide variety of accounting functions (example of value added)

Staff Accountant (Entry level)

Completed bookkeeping, billing and monthly bank reconciliations for four high-value companies as well as monthly payroll and quarterly employment tax returns for 15 companies. Performed analytical reviews of financial statements to ensure accuracy and prepared tax returns including 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1040, and additional forms for 50+ clients

  • Generated a 10% increase in company revenue by cultivating strong client relationships through outstanding accounting service, professional demeanor and communication skills
  • Successfully won 10+ new clients by demonstrating ability to perform tests of internal controls, identify and resolve issues, and make recommendations to enhance business efficiency
  • Professional Skills: QuickBooks, Excel, individual and corporate tax returns, sales tax, payroll tax, bookkeeping

Allow these examples to guide you as you prepare for upcoming career fairs and fine-tune your resume. Although what is covered in this article is limited, your resources are not! Make sure to contact the Career Center and Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) for resume and interview help before and during your next job fair visit.


Reminder: To connect with Lynn and other ASK mentors like her, visit Handshake!