How to prepare for our Careers Fairs…
By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 September 2015
Every year UCL Careers holds a number of Careers Fairs to help you talk to employers and find out first hand what they are looking for. You will get more out of the Careers Fair if you spend a little time preparing…
Be aware that there will be a mixture of all kind of employers from many different sectors exhibiting each day and you might find an employer that you had never really considered before becoming a favourite for you. To help you prepare effectively we’ve put together some handy tips to get you started
Before the fair
> We strongly encourage you to do some research on the exhibitors before the fair: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs
> As well as reading the exhibitor profiles, click through to the organisation’s own website to find out more about them.
> After your research, decide which exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, and you will be able to ask more informed questions. It can be difficult to understand the difference between big companies within the same sector. Often it is the cultural aspects that make a real difference in the working environment and this can only be appreciated through talking and interacting with representatives at the Careers Fairs. Try to prepare some questions in advance and think about the main points that you would want an organisation to know about you – it can help you feel more confident.
> Come along to one of the preparation sessions organised by UCL Careers (starting w/c 5th October).
At the fair
> At the fair, each exhibiting organisation has a stand and their representatives are there to answer your questions about what the organisation does, what jobs they offer to final year students and graduates, what internships/placements they provide to earlier year students, and any other opportunities that they offer.
> Shows motivation in a competitive job market esp. if you refer to attendance in applications/ interviews
> Often particular insight re. staff experience relating to specific projects they’ve been involved in or training they’ve had can be used as ammunition that can be a real differentiator when answering motivation based questions – ie lots of first hand information not available on any website that other candidates might not be able to offer.
> Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure. Use the opportunity to ask your questions face-to-face.
> If you are feeling a bit nervous about approaching your first choice organisation, it can be a good idea to visit some other stands first to practise your technique.
> If you are given a business card, make a point soon afterwards of noting on it anything that it would be useful to remember. Have they suggested you email them with further questions? Did they give you advice on their recruitment process?
> Even if you have a ‘hit list’ of exhibitors, consider other organisations at the fair that are less well known. They might be offering just what you are looking for.
Remember to bring your UCL ID or GradClub ID card as you won’t be able to enter the fair without this!
Other hints and tips
> Remember that many of the opportunities are available to students of any discipline
> If you want to have a CV ready to hand over, arrange an appointment at UCL Careers before the Careers Fair to ask for some CV feedback
> The fair may be busy when you arrive – don’t be put off. People tend to congregate by the entrance, so head to another part of the fair where it will probably be quieter
> Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. The exhibitor may not realise that you are interested in them, and you could miss out because your friend happens to be more talkative than you!
> If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t know what to do or where to start, make sure you visit the UCL Careers for help.
> Staff on the exhibitor stands are often relatively recent graduates who can tell you what it is really like to work in their organization. They may even refer to particular projects that they’ve been involved in or training that they’ve had –all of which is great information for you to use when you apply for a position at their company. This insight is not available on any website and creates a unique impression when it is your time to apply.
> In a competitive job market, it can make a difference to refer to any interaction with employers during the application process
For further information about the fairs, please visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs