The past 3 years that I've attended Grace Hopper, I've managed to secure an internship or an REU as a direct result of the career fair. I wanted to share some things I've learned.
Before the Career Fair
- First and foremost, upload your resume to the database. Recruiters have been contacting people based on their resumes in this database.
- Use the Career Guide to your advantage
- The Career Guide is a list of all companies/schools that will be there, a copy of both the the career floor and the interview booth plan(s), and a brief overview of each company.
- I take the Career Guide, make 3 lists and color code it.
- Companies that I know well.
- Companies I'd like to know more about.
- Companies I've secured interviews with.
- Let the research begin! I take my list and begin research!
- For companies I know well, I do a brief overview reading up on recent news. I look for new products, if this company recently acquired new companies, and all of their social media.
- For companies I'd like to learn more about, I read their website, download and play with their products and follow them on social media.
- For companies I've secured an interview with, I conduct in depth research. I follow their engineering blogs, read up on new happenings with the company and try and piece together everything I can as related to my position (for example devops position- if they use Puppet or Chef)
- Practice your elevator speech.
EKK! The Career Fair has begun!
It's completely understandable to be a little overwhelmed if it's your first time. No worries! Follow these tips and you'll be a pro in no time.
- Walk around the fair once. If you've never been to G.H. or if you've never been to a job fair, this one can be a tad overwhelming. Each year, once the doors open, I take 5 minutes and walk around. (I may or may not be scoping out the swag situation haha) This helps me get better acquainted with my surroundings which takes some anxiety I may be feeling away.
- Make note of each booth
- Remember that color coded list I mentioned earlier? Now is the time to break that puppy out and make additional notes if you have to.
- Begin the search for your next opportunity!
- Remember this is a pretty big conference so it's important to make an impression.
- Smile, introduce yourself (cue elevator speech) and hand over a resume.
- Ask meaningful questions
- Sure you could ask generic questions but what fun is that? Show that you've done your research and ask questions that reflect just that.
- Reaffirm your interest with the company
- It is quite possible that the company isn't looking to hire the specific role you'd like. Don't sweat the small stuff...who knows when something may open up.
- Thank them for their time
- The great thing about G.H. is that at any given time, you could be speaking to a recruiter, engineer or hiring manager. It is important to thank them for spending a few minutes with you!
- Swag time!
- If they haven't offered, kindly ask if you can take swag. (I mentioned this because some swag is reserved for giveaways of sorts)
- Make notes if necessary, and repeat steps 1-4 at the next booth.
I have an interview...
Yippie! Congrats. I'll keep this short and sweet.
- Confirm all interviews before the conference
- Gather booth numbers, interview times, and point of contact for your interview.
- Find interview booths once the career fair opens (even if your interview isn't until Thursday or Friday)
- It is important to note if this is your first time at G.H., the interview booths are separate from the floor booths. (hard to explain, easy once you get there)
- Show up 10 minutes early
- More often than not, there will be someone interviewing by the time you get to the booth. Kindly wait outside until your interviewer is ready for you.
- Be prepared
- Have copies of your resume, a pen, notepad (pen and notepad are nice to have just in case).
- Rock your interview
- Follow up with thank you cards
- Handwritten thank you cards will never go out of style. Rather send them online? Do so as soon as you can to avoid forgetting.
The best thing about the Career Fair at Grace Hopper is exposure. There aren't too many conferences that bring together some of the most amazing companies all looking for talent. Be yourself and you should be just fine. If you find yourself shy or overwhelmed, feel free to tweet me and I'll be your wingwoman.
See some photos from the career fair last year here.