Prepare for the Fair: Tips for Success!

Prepare for the Fair: Tips for Success!

Are you starting the search process for an internship or job as the next step on your career path? Or perhaps you’re wondering how a career fair or networking event works? If so, you’re in luck!

Next week is the Career Center’s 2022 Fall Career + Internship Fair. It’s your chance to engage with a variety of the nation’s top companies interested in recruiting Pitt students and alumni. The Fall season is also the perfect time to begin exploring and registering for upcoming networking and professional development events hosted by employers. To best prepare you for our upcoming career fair days, this blog will provide tips and tricks to improve upon your networking skills and build confidence!

Find Your Fair Day(s):

Please be sure to check Handshake under the “events” tab to see which day(s) makes the most sense to attend. As engineering and technology students, Engineering Day on September 29th, or Computing & Information Day on September 28th are recommended!

You can view the employers attending the career fair by clicking here and selecting “see more employers” to see a complete list. Companies are listed alphabetically, however there are filters that can be applied to narrow down your search. Try not to only search for employers by your major, as employers do not always tag every relevant major with their company when registering.

Fair Preparation Tips:

  • Create a list of companies you’d like to speak with based on the Handshake attending list—an excel sheet document is great for keeping track! Be sure to research the companies that you are interested in ahead of time by going onto their official website, LinkedIn page, and social media platforms.
  • Knowing about the companies before attending the fair is essential to show you are genuinely interested in the company and have taken the time to learn more about them. One of the most common mistakes you can make is asking an employer to tell you about what they do. When researching, a few questions to think about are: what innovations or projects are they implementing? What career paths are available? What are the company’s mission and values?
  • Make sure your resume reflects your current skills, experiences, and background. Ingrid’s blog on resume tips describes in detail what should and should not be included on your resume. Please visit the above link to check it out! Additionally, when uploading your resume to our Handshake platform for applying to positions, ensure that the resume is set to “public” so that employers can view it on your profile as well.
  • Update your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles and make sure the information you want employers to see is public and up to date. Many of the employers who attend our fair days also have a presence on LinkedIn or Handshake, so you never know when they may view your profile. This is also important when applying online to any internships or jobs.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch, also known as how you’ll introduce yourself to the employer. You can think of your pitch as an actual elevator with floors going up. The first floor is who you are and your role at Pitt, the second floor is the type of opportunity you’re looking for, the third floor is what makes you unique, and the fourth floor is why you’d be a good fit at their company. You want to keep your elevator pitch to about 60 seconds, and no longer than 90 seconds. Be prepared to both answer and ask questions!
  • Plan out your professional attire ahead of time, selecting clothing you’ll feel confident and look savvy in. A rule of thumb is to dress a level or two above what you think the dress code at the company would be. So, even if a company may wear jeans and a polo to work, for example, you’ll want to arrive in business attire for the fair.

Below is a sample elevator pitch you can refer to:

“Hi, my name is Maya and I’m a junior at the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on Electrical Engineering. I have been working in a lab part-time but am looking for an internship opportunity that will give me more hands-on knowledge of the power management industry. I’m interested in Eaton because of the cutting-edge products that are being developed for energy efficiency and I’d love to be involved in that process.”

Did you know? If you need a whole outfit, or only one item/accessory for our fair, you can borrow clothing from our Career Closet for free! This service is available the whole academic year for any career fair, networking event, or interview you have coming up! To schedule an appointment to browse our clothing options, please go onto Handshake > Appointments > New Appointment > Career Center to choose a day and time. The Career Closet is located on the 2nd floor of William Pitt Union (WPU) in room 224.

Follow-up to the Fair Tips:

  • If the recruiter told you to apply online, make sure that you do! When the application asks how you learned of the position, include the recruiters name or mention Pitt’s Job Fair as the source. Also refer to the recruiter and fair if you include a cover letter. Referrals are a great networking tool and are offer better success in securing you an interview, as employers are more likely to speak with applicants already known by colleagues.
  • Follow-up via email or on social media if they provided a way to follow-up—be sure to ask them for the best way to contact before you end the conversation at each booth. Thank them for their time and that’ll you follow their advice to try and land an opportunity with their company.
  • Connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn and follow the company if you are very interested in working for them! LinkedIn is highly recommended not only for the career fair days, but future networking opportunities. You never know when one of your connections may reach out with a position opportunity or offer the opportunity for an informational interview. If you ever need assistance setting up or updating a LinkedIn Profile, please feel free to email us!

For additional guidance, schedule an appointment with your career consultant through Handshake. Instructions: Career Center > Appointments > New Appointment > Major (virtual or in person) > Career Consultant 30 minute appointment and select a day and time to meet.

Self-guided mock interview platform: Big Interview

AI based platform designing for reviewing resumes and providing feedback: VMock

Reminder: To view a complete list of companies attending the Fall 2022 Career + Internship Fair, please check out the Handshake event page here

Good luck, you’ve got this! Remember, we are always here to help. 🙂

-Ashley Steffy, STEM Career Consultant

By Ashley Steffy
Ashley Steffy Career Consultant, STEM