The new term brings with it the usual bewildering range of graduate fairs and slick employer presentations. What’s the best way of visiting the fairs and finding out which employers you might actually be interested in working for?
1) Employers tell us they really want students to have taken a look at what they do, BEFORE coming to the Fair. It’s fine to ask the people at the stands, ‘What’s the best part about your job?’ but less good to ask, ‘Tell me what your company does?’. Follow the links on your careers service’s website to find out more.
2) Gathering up the freebies is great for stocking up on pens and USB sticks. But even a quick chat with the recruiter might open your eyes to something you’d not thought of before.
3) There’s no need to put your best suit on. Try to look smarter than you usually would for a day at uni; first impressions do count and believe it or not recruiters sometimes take note of people’s names and track them through the recruitment process.
4) Take an open mind! Even a tech company will need people interested in general management or HR. Even a consultancy company will need tech people. People take different routes after their first role in a company. That’s why talking to the recruiters can really help you understand the possibilities ahead of you.
5) Think hard about whether or not to take a CV with you. It may seem tempting, but it’s going to be difficult to tailor that CV to each different company at the graduate fair.
6) Remember who you spoke to, so that in your future applications, you can drop in a name or two. This isn’t seen as bad form. It’s seen as good evidence of motivation – that you bothered to talk to people. It’s also pleasing to the employers that the effort they made (and money they spent) in attending the Fair was worthwhile to attract good candidates.
7) Don’t think you’re interested in business? Convinced the only companies you ever see are City firms? Perhaps think again. Businesses need people who can think and write (just like Humanities students), or who can analyse data (like scientists) and are keen to have a range of backgrounds in their firms. Careers services work hard to reach out to non-City-types but of course the companies that come are the ones that need to recruit a large volume of grads.
8) Talk to your careers service for help with the types of questions you might want to ask the recruiters that attend grad fairs. Often, there is so much information available on the company websites that it’s hard to figure out what additional insights you need. So questions will probably be more about the individual employer’s own experience, or perhaps around the differences between different company cultures, for example.
9) Challenge yourself! If attending these events seems a big hurdle, and not useful to help you decide, perhaps just use them as a chance to talk to people you’ve not met before, to find out more about how other people make career decisions and how people’s careers develop and change.
10) Get organised! Some deadlines for summer internship schemes, which are increasingly used to provide the pool of future graduate recruits, are long before Christmas. Keep an eye on websites such as Milkround and of course JobOnline for information.