As a new academic year commences, graduate fairs can be looming shadows in students timetables. Tessa Ndjonkou demystifies the experience in hopes that students will be well equipped to conquer them fearlessly this time around.
So you’ve made it. You’re standing in front of the venue, the doors have yet to open, and you haven’t a clue what to expect. You’re slightly out of breath and disoriented and realise not only do you not know anyone there but the idea of going from student to employee makes you break out in cold sweats. Fear not, The Observer is here to help. Heed the advice of those who have been there before you and get ready to strut through the hallowed halls of the RDS looking like you know what you’re doing.
Head there with a purpose. Drifting from stand to stand is an idea but graduate fairs are notoriously massive, crowded and overwhelming. We would advise you to do as much recon and research online before the day so you’re at least somewhat familiar with your surroundings and what exactly is on offer on the day.
Set up a specific set of goals for the day and aim to reach a few. Is there a specific company you’d like to speak to? A specific area you’re not familiar with you’d like to understand better? Does your CV need some more work? Maybe you’d like to hear what recruitment experts have to say about the road from interview to contact signing. Wherever it is, make sure you have some inkling of what you’d like to see and who you’d like to speak to to get the most out of the experience.
Talk to everyone
Seriously. Remember, this is also your first foray into networking. The people at fairs work for a company you might be interested in joining or in the industry you’d been hoping to make your mark in. Talk to the person manning the stand, talk to the person sitting next to you during the seminars. Just do it.
Be sure to immortalise anything that seems relevant at the moment you see it as this will undoubtedly escape your mind the second you exit the premises. Feel free to take pictures of the presentation slides during seminars to accompany your notes or of stands that seem interesting.
Print your CV
Regardless of its breadth or the standard you think it will be held to, print your CV. Seriously, it will be easier for recruitment professionals who are available to give you constructive feedback on it. When they are done advising you, you’ll be able to carry their advice with you directly. Speaking of CV assistance, don’t be like me and forget to sign-up to the CV clinic. As you enter the venue, try to locate the CV hotspot as quickly as possible and sign-up, otherwise you’ll have to wait hours for someone to give you an in-depth analysis.
And just like that, you’re ready to conquer the unstable terrain of your first Graduate Fair. Go forth and go far, but remember that the most important part is to have fun and discover what you really like. If anything goes wrong, there’s always next year!
The GradIreland Graduate Careers Fair 2023 will be held in the RDS on September 21th from 11 am to 5 pm. Make sure to apply on their website. UCD hosts its own graduate recruitment fairs throughout the year. The official timeline for these is available on the UCD Careers Network.