Job fairs can play a significant role at the start of your career. Attending career fairs gives you information about the job market, opportunities to meet company recruiters, and a chance to practice your professional communication skills. So, how many job fairs should you attend in a year? It depends on where you are in your career search and the goals you set for yourself.
Your freshman year is a time of discovery. You are learning who you are now and who you may want to be in the future. Attending one or two career fairs on your campus is an informal way to get your feet wet. You can research companies on the Career Fair Plus app, then walk around the event to see what catches your interest. Look at opportunities for majors you are considering. You may find ideas for careers that you didn't even know existed. Talk to recruiters if you like, but your primary goal is to stimulate your imagination and gather information.
Sophomore year is the time to start preparing for your job search. Register with your college's career services office and start looking for an internship or co-op position. A successful internship will give you work experience and strengthen your resume. More than 60 percent of college graduates list an internship on their resume, so an internship is vital to staying competitive. If your college holds a job fair focused on internships, then plan to attend it. If not, attend at least two more general career fairs that fit your career goals. Register with recruiters for informational interviews to learn about career paths at different companies. Nerd Wallet has some excellent tips for finding a sophomore internship.
This is the year to get serious about your career planning. Make time in your schedule to attend career workshops, perfect your resume, and practice interviewing. If you didn't complete a sophomore internship, it's even more important to find one for the summer after your junior year. Plan to attend several career fairs this year so begin networking with recruiters. Even though you are looking for an internship, don't ignore recruiters from other organizations. Schedule meetings with recruiters to learn what they are looking for to get a headstart on your senior year. For tips on preparing for your meetings, read our article on 3 Things to Know Before You Attend.
Junior Year Abroad
If you spend your junior year abroad, work closely with your school's career placement office to secure an internship when you come home. Attending job fairs in person may not be possible, but you can still attend a digital career fair. Submit your resume and register for interviews via Skype or phone. Some job fairs also have online workshops during job fairs, so look to see if one is available.
The fall of your senior year is the critical time to attend job fairs. If your college offers several job fairs, look through the lists of recruiters attending to find the ones that match your interests. Start with recruiters from companies you have less interest in so that you can practice and refine your skills before your meeting with the recruiters you want to impress. It may be tempting to meet with several recruiters at one job fair, but it's wiser to attend several job fairs and focus on 3-5 at each event. This gives you time to prepare for each recruiter. You also won't experience time pressure if you one of the company representatives is running behind schedule.
Job fairs are beneficial during every part of your career journey. Your goals will change as you move toward graduation, but it is never too early to start attending job fairs. Attending fairs during the first two years of college will give you experience and confidence when its time to start looking for post-graduation employment. For more information, see 5 Benefits of Attending a Career Fair.