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What springs to mind when you think of Careers Fairs? Walking around aimlessly, picking up brochures and gathering as much free stuff as possible? Did you walk away feeling like you were not sure what to do with the information, or why you attended in the first place?

You are only going to get out of it what you put in! So be prepared and professional when you attend the Internship and Vacation Work Fair 2012. Careers Fairs are the best opportunity you will get to speak directly to employers, to ask them questions, and to make a great first impression.

The Careers Centre hosts three major Careers Fairs throughout the year on campus, as well as numerous faculty-specific events. A Careers Fair is an opportunity for employers in the public, private, and commercial sector to showcase their internship and graduate opportunities to University of Sydney students. This is a perfect opportunity for you to meet representatives from the companies you may be interested in.

Representatives are usually key recruitment staff and graduates, so it is a great time to create a professional first impression and gain valuable advice on how to be a successful candidate. Here are some tips to help you get prepared and understand what the employer’s expectations are when they meet you at a Careers Fair.

Before the Careers Fair
Find out which employers are attending the Careers Fair and whom you would like to approach. Do some research into the employers you want to target on the day. (The attendance list for the Internship and Vacation Work Fair is at the bottom of this page). It will not look good if you are asking employers what they do or whether they have a graduate or internship program or if they employ international students – find this out before you attend and focus on asking more impressive questions (check out previous blogs on how to Dazzle & Annoy the recruiter for some ideas to get you started).

If a representative at the Careers Fair is referring you to the company website when you talk to them, it is because you have come unprepared with general questions.

On the Day
Dress like a professional – it is good to dress like you are attending a job interview. You may lose your appeal if you dress like you have popped in on your way home from the beach or gym. Employers don't expect a suit and tie at a Careers Fair, you do want to look professional and well dressed.
Be prepared to talk about yourself, your skills, work experience, and extracurricular involvement. You may be asked to tell the employer about yourself. Here you may want to mention what you are studying, what subject areas you are performing well in (particularly if they are relevant), what experience you have been obtaining to develop your skills and any significant accomplishments from your experience.

Attend the fair with a friend if you want, BUT TALK TO THE EMPLOYERS. The main point is to build your professional network, gain a bit of interview practice, and find out what you need to do to strengthen your applications.

Ask for business cards once you have established a professional rapport and spent some time speaking with a representative. Alternatively write down the name and job title of the person/s you have spoken with so you can refer to them in your application or at the interview.

Collect brochures. You may need this to help you review in preparation for your applications and interviews. Take notes of the information you have acquired that will help you to improve your applications and interview preparation.

After the Fair
Review your notes, information and brochures you collected at the fair.

If you collected any business cards, send a professionally written thank you email. You may want to mention one or two things you took away from your interaction with that individual at the Careers Fair.

Get started on your applications and make use of the Careers Centre services to help you through the process.

If you need any help, the Careers Centre here to provide it. Send us a question on Facebook, nothing is to small or trivial.

- Ruth Wilcock, Career Development Officer

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