Workshop contributes to Career Fair success

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 14:22 -- Steven J Rottinghaus

The week before the annual University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications career fair in early March, I hosted two hour-long workshop sessions on separate days to better prepare students. Before the workshop, most of the J-School students thought career fairs were a place to dress sharp, randomly make the rounds to all the booths, drop off resumes, pick up business cards and collect giveaway items.

I encouraged students to think more strategically about their approach to the fair and focus on maximizing their limited time by targeting organizations that interested them the most. During the preparatory sessions, we emphasized the importance of being confident in their introduction, how to present resumes to prospective employers, research the organizations and the proper questions to ask in a small timeframe to keep the conversation going. At the end of each session, I presented an actual internship description of one of the companies looking to hire the students and asked for volunteers to participate in a mock career fair. I served as a representative for a company recruiting interns, and students eagerly stepped up to serve as the prospective intern. It was extremely well received and the students who participated were confident in their approach.

“In a five-minute conversation, you can get an impression of the company, the company’s culture and see if the company seems like a good fit for you,” said Katie Stone, a KU graduate who interned with InTouch Solutions, a company she now represents at career fairs as an associate analyst in social media. “It’s a great way to get an in-person impression about companies that you’ve read about online.”

Katie Stone, who interned with the company she now represents as an associate analyst in social media.

The turnout for the career fair was fantastic with 187 students and 30 vendors, and I believe the workshops contributed to the success. Holding it the week before the fair was perfect timing. By then, I knew all of the organizations registered and was able to provide the students links to their websites to research. The perfect scenario that emerged: A student attended the workshop, connected with an organization at the career fair, applied for a summer internship, participated in a mock interview in my office and two days later was notified she had been selected as an intern.

 If you haven’t already, I highly recommend organizing a mock job fair to promote your actual career fairs and help your students make the most of the opportunity.

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