5 tips for a successful career expo

For students, it’s that time of year when summer internship deadlines loom near and job applications consume free time. One way to better your chances of landing a position? Attend a career expo.

For those who have never attended one before, the idea of hordes of students vying for the attention of recruiters can seem intimidating. To help ease your fears, Columbia Visuals chatted with career services staff at the Columbia Journalism School, who shared some helpful tips for students looking for jobs and internships.

1. Prepare materials

Career services staff tells students to make 12-13 packages, consisting of a resume and clips, and to develop a targeted resume that communicates your skills and experience in a clear, concise manner.

For clips, select your strongest work that reflects the type of job you want. If you don’t have published work, pick some of your strongest classroom work. For photographers, have a portfolio of about 20 images –this is not a hard and fast rule, but your time with the recruiters is limited and you want to present your strongest work first. Check out our post on how to craft a portfolio. If you’re working on a long-form video, cut a two to three minute trailer. Make sure to bring a laptop or a tablet. Have your pieces loaded and make sure all your links work.

2. Craft your elevator speech

Prepare a 30 second introduction to use with recruiters. Things to include: topical interests, a short biography that reflects your unique skills and something that makes you stand out.

During your conversation, focus on job specific, adaptive and transferable skills. And remember that job titles are obsolete, focus on skills required and job-related functions (i.e. editing, producing, working on deadline), not job titles, in evaluating who is of most interest to you.

3. Prepare questions in advance

Recruiters want people who are proactive. Don’t ask for information you could find in the employer’s website. Possible questions you could ask:

  • What kind of person are you seeking for this position?
  • What skills do you value most?
  • What are the types of assignments interns get?
  • What is a typical day like?

4. Create a plan

Attending a career expo can be overwhelming . A plan will help you decide what employers to seek out based on interests, medium, and geography. Study the companies beforehand: Research their mission, investigate what departments are expanding or shrinking, and understand the company’s tone.

5. Have fun. Recruiters and employers are there because they are looking for new talent and people they think would be a good fit for their team. Show your personality and be authentic. Enjoy yourself and make connections.

Lastly, don’t forget to send out thank you emails or cards to the recruiters and employers you talked to! It’s the final step in leaving a good impression.

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