How to Get Through Career Expos with Confidence

If you can navigate to class in negative 30 degrees, you can navigate the upcoming career expos with ease. The annual spring Career Expo is being held in the Fargodome, 1-4 p.m Feb. 6 and from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Feb. 7, depending on your field of interest.

Three hundred employers, 1,500 students and alumni and one you, equipped with your suave, faux leather resume holder and an elevator pitch you practiced on your unsuspecting roommate that morning while downing your usual caffeinated concoction.

Around campus, outsiders notice clumps of disturbingly dressed up college students meandering around campus. It’s the NDSU Career Expo season, and it’s time to dazzle potential employers and snag that coveted internship you bookmarked on the CareerFairPlus app (available for both Apple and Android).

The end goal is clear, but how do you conquer the mini mountains in your path? Try these tips:

Have a goddess of a resume

Think immaculate: virtually no grammatical errors, easy to scan in less than 15 seconds, well designed and organized.

When auditing content organization, consider the “ideal candidate” descriptions provided for the jobs you want and your industry’s most sought-after skills and experiences.

Try hosting a constructive resume critique with peers from your degree program, or visit the Career Center to get outside input.

Dress for meeting an industry mogul

Pick your flavor of business professional. Ladies, it can include a mash-up of any of the following: dress or skirt (knee-length), slacks, blouse and suit jacket.

Lads, wear a conservative two-piece suit with a button-up shirt, tie, color-coordinated belt and dress shoes.

To be even more professional, “Arrive early … A lot of places give out the majority of their interview slots before noon,” Noah Curfman, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said.

To avoid stuttering and looking unprofessional, avoid the employers you really want to talk to at first.

“Start off talking to companies you are not as interested in to ditch any initial jitters. When comfortable, seek out top-choice companies and be both engaged and passionate,” said Jordyn Johnson, an NDSU alumna who is now an engineer at 3M.

Know your stuff

Know key facts about your favorite companies: their mission, values, operations and available job descriptions at a minimum. While conducting research, jot down questions for recruiters to act as conversational catalysts.

“Mentally put yourself in the shoes of company representatives in attendance.  They will remember those who ask intriguing questions,” Jessie Lee, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said.

Know how to showcase your abilities. According to Forbes, the most desired skill categories in candidates include communication, organization, problem solving and teamwork.

“Have specific examples of projects you’ve worked on and corresponding roles. They should relate in some way to what you would be doing at the company you are talking to,” explained senior electrical engineering major Jacob Huesman.

Prepare a survival kit

You should bring the following with you to the expo:

  • Resume folder
  • Resume copies for all of the companies you plan on visiting plus some extras (print resumes on high-quality paper at Design & Sign on campus)
  • Pen and paper
  • List of questions to ask recruiters
  • Student ID (remember this to get into the expo)

Remember the expo is not an ultimatum

Browse job finding sites like indeed.com and websites of companies you love, but that could not attend the fair.

Attaching a well-done cover letter to online applications can forge a more personal connection similar to one made by talking in person with recruiters.

Visit the NDSU Career Center website for additional tips on crafting an effective cover letter.

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