How to Use a Career Fair as an Exploration Opportunity

While many students attend career fairs in search of specific internship or full-time opportunities, it’s also a great opportunity to explore and learn more about professional paths and opportunities and to practice networking. By attending a career fair, you’re able to speak with representatives from multiple organizations during one event. In your conversations, you will be able to learn about each organization — its values, work culture...etc. — and the types of opportunities they typically hire for. Be sure to ask about what they typically look for in prospective candidates for these roles. In addition, you can practice your professional introduction, engage with employers, and build connections which may aid you in the future.

During and after your conversations at the Career Fair, be sure to stop and reflect on what you have learned. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I interested in working for the organizations I spoke with? Why or why not?
  • What excited me the most about this industry/field/organization/role?
  • Were there opportunities at these organizations that I would be a good fit for?
  • Would this path capitalize on my strengths?
  • Does this path align with my values?
  • What concerns do I have about this line of work?
  • Was there a conversation that surprised me?
  • What skills do I need to develop?
  • What information am I still missing?

Before the Fair

  • Determine how much time you can spend at the fair (and potentially which/how many organizations you want to speak with).
  • Rank which organizations you want to speak with most. This list will help you prioritize which tables to visit first.
  • Conduct background research on participating organizations and career fields. Use tools such as The Wellesley Hive, LinkedIn, Vault, news articles, and employer websites. You should research all of the participating companies, not just those you are initially interested in.
  • Make sure that your resume is up to date. Tailor your resume to the types of companies you will be meeting with. Print out a few copies and place them in a portfolio.
  • Practice your professional introduction. How will you introduce yourself to a prospective employer?
  • Prepare a few questions to ask employers to show that you’ve done your research. Remember a career fair gives you an opportunity to “practice” engaging with employers in a professional manner.  Employers are not expecting you to be an industry expert, but you are the expert on yourself! Here are a few sample questions:
  • What makes your organization distinct?
  • How large is your organization? What are your primary locations?
  • What kinds of roles do you typically recruit for at Wellesley?
  • What skills/qualities/experiences do you look for in ideal candidates?
  • What are the primary responsibilities of a _______(intern/new hire)?
  • Can you describe your company culture?
  • What is your top piece of advice for students who want to work in your industry? Organization?
  • Do you have any Wellesley alumnae who work at your organization?
  • What are the typical entry-level job titles and functions?
  • What kind of training and ongoing professional development is provided?


During the Fair

  • Look the part! Remember to dress professionally.
  • Take a deep breath! Knowing what to expect may help calm nervous feelings.
  • Upon arrival at the fair, take a lap around the room. This will help you get a sense of the layout of the event. Observe how students approach employers. Listen to the questions they ask and how they introduce themselves (pay attention to what is shared verbally as well as nonverbally).
  • While it may be intimidating at first, a career fair will necessitate you to make the first move! You may want to practice approaching other employers before initiating contact with your top employer.
  • Challenge yourself to talk with one company that is not obviously related to your career interests. You never know where you might find something surprising.
  • Collect relevant print materials. Don’t just stop at a table to pick up the free swag.
  • Ask for business card(s) of the representatives that you speak with.

After the Fair

  • Send a brief and appreciative thank you email to representatives that you wish to contact post-event. Thank the employer for their time and ask any follow-up questions about opportunities at their organization.
  • Regularly check each organization's website (and Handshake) for internship/job postings.
  • Refer to the reflection questions above to ensure you’ve thought critically about your experience and what you have learned.
  • We encourage you to make an appointment with your Advisor for Career Exploration or an Industry Advisor to discuss your reflections, learnings and ideas further. These appointments will be helpful in identifying next steps in terms of your research and exploration.

Additional Readings

Want More Tips to Prepare for Career Fairs?

Check out the following readings: