College Career Fairs How They Work

College  Career Fairs

As an upperclassman in high school and leading up to a freshman in college. You spend so much time figuring out the logistics, details, and planning of getting into and choosing a college that once you start reality really hits you.

I spent so much time and focus just simply getting myself to college and choosing a major that I hadn’t really had time to think past that.

During my first week of business school I was bombarded with information about resumes, careers, Handshake, LinkedIn, career fairs, and recruiters.

It was so crazy to me that one minute I was asking to use the restroom in high school and the next I was already talking about where I wanted to live and work in the real world.

However, this is the reality of college.

The Point of College

The entire point of college is to help you secure the job of your dreams with your degree. With that being said, some colleges offer a lot more help and opportunities than others. Obviously bigger schools usually have bigger networks, therefore bigger career fairs.

 A lot of universities have offices of career management where you can schedule to get advice about internships, job offers, resumes, etc. I highly advise using these amazing resources especially when you first get to college.

Creating a network and a professional resume, LinkedIn, Handshake, etc. can be a lot when you are already overwhelmed with starting your first semester of college. There is no rush on any of this, but of course, the sooner you get it done the better.

I had to turn in a professional resume within a month of starting school as a grade during my freshman year. You can get an internship after your freshman year. I did as well as many of my friends. This is a great thing to do, however, it requires you to get your professional skills together before other students.

If you are interested in having an internship after your freshman year, you need to be perfecting your resume, LinkedIn, and Handshake as soon as you can. You also need to be on the lookout for any and all career fairs and make sure that you are attending.

Career fairs are the MAIN way to get in contact, network, and introduce yourself to companies other than recruiters.

Here is some more information on career fairs at universities.

How Do College Career Fairs Work?

First of all, it is important to find career fairs at your school. These can usually be found on your school website, Handshake, or portal like Handshake that is linked with your school.

Many universities have one big huge career fair for the entire school and then smaller ones for each college within the university. For me, I went to the university-wide career fair, the business career fair, and the accounting career fair.

There are career fairs for everything you just have to find them. College career fair and recruitment season is a season of its own. You will constantly see students walking around campus in full suits with high anxiety.

Seniors, this part of the year probably consists of trying to find a full-time job if they do not already have one. For underclassman, this consist of trying to talk to as many companies as possible in order to obtain some sort of summer or semester internship.

There are usually three different things that underclassmen are looking for. The first is the typical summer internship. If your school is in a big city, odds are that a lot of the companies are from that city and looking to place you in that city.

However, there are normally companies looking to place students in a broad range of places across the country.

The second is a co-op during a semester that doesn’t allow for classes. What this means is that you would take a semester off of taking classes and work full time at a company. This is most common in engineering and accounting majors. Accounting majors usually work during “busy season” which is tax time.

Co-ops can also be located anywhere, not just in the place where your university is located.

The third is a part-time internship that you can have during the semester while taking classes. This is not as common and rare to find.

You need to know which of these you are looking for because they will ask you at every single booth. You also need to know approximately when you will be graduating and when you will have your 150 credit hours if you are an accounting major.

What Happens at a Career Fair?

Basically what you will do is have the opportunity to walk up to any of the booths, give them a resume, talk to the recruiters, and see what they have to offer. If you are a freshman or sophomore, many may say that they are not interested and only looking for junior applicants for their internship programs.

DO not get discouraged. This is common and it looks good if you give them your resume and have your name in the system either way.

Basically, there will be a time frame that the career fair is open, and you have that entire time frame to talk to as many companies and hand out as many resumes as possible. I highly encourage talking to as many people as you possibly can.

Make sure to always ask for a business card and write any notes on the back of the card after you leave the recruiter.

It is career fair etiquette to wait until after you walk away from that company to put the business card away.

After the career fair, you should email every person you got a business card from to thank them, as well as add them on LinkedIn.

Career Fair Prep

It is important to understand what you need to bring to college to be prepared for a career fair.

You are supposed to dress in a full matching suit.

Guys should wear ties. This means that it would be in your best interest to bring this type of clothing to school.

You should also at some point obtain a padfolio to walk around with from company to company holding your resumes. The number of resumes that you print out depends on the size of the career fair. There were over 100 companies at the business career fair I attended and I brought 35 resumes. I was there the entire time and passed out every single resume may also need to know your location preferences after graduation and for the internship.

This preference work can obviously change for you after graduation especially if you are an underclassman. The key is to know where you would be willing to work if you got an internship.

It is also good to look at the companies that will be at the fair so you can plan out which ones you absolutely want to go to. The best plan is to approach smaller companies or a company you are not as interested in to practice your pitch to work there.

Once you feel more comfortable, you want to go to the companies you are most interested in to talk with and connect. Especially if you go to a bigger school, you may be waiting in long lines, so be prepared.

Make sure your phone is turned off and not visible. You want to be acting on your best behavior and as you would at an interview the entire time you are at the career fair.

What Colleges Have the Highest Job Placement?

A lot of times, there are schools that have recruiters for certain majors and careers so they have better job placement in those programs specifically. It is important to look at those colleges.

You want to look at each university to see which ones have the best opportunities, who have more recruiters available, who has an office of career management, and who has the biggest career fairs available.

Overall, here are some of the schools with the highest job placement in general throughout all of the different majors. The link below to Stanford shows the career fair page for the university.

  • Stanford University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Sydney
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of Cambridge
  • Boston University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New York University

What Degrees Have the Most Job Opportunities?

College degrees are needed more and more for jobs in today’s world. Some jobs that used to only require a high school diploma, now require a college degree.

Even though it seems like there will always be a job for you with a degree, that is not necessarily true. Here are some of the degrees that you will most likely always have the most job opportunities.

  • Computer Science
  • Computer Science Engineering
  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Social Work
  • Math
  • Statistics
  • Communications
  • Education
  • Nursing

Do Career Fairs Hire on the Spot?

No career fairs do not hire on the spot. They do hand out interviews on the spot. If you do not get an interview after leaving a career fair, do not feel bad because many companies do not do this.

They may just tell you about their opportunities and encourage you to apply. They then will have your information and know that you are interested in.

Companies that do offer interviews usually offer them for the next day or day after on your campus. They could possibly offer you an interview at their office at a different time, but if they offer you a campus interview, odds are that it will be in the next few days.

That means you need to know your schedule for the next few days. You should honestly never turn down an interview.

I skipped classes for next day interviews, and with email proof was able to still get attendance for my classes. In the end, we are all going to college in hopes of getting a great career. Internships are great stepping stones in these directions, so normally professors understand.

Are Career Fairs Effective?

I fully believe that career fairs are effective. You will never have an opportunity to network with this many people in one day after graduation.

Companies love to see hard-working college students interested in their company and the workforce in general. You may end up using your connections from past career fairs at some point in the future or in your career.

It is always good to network with as many people in your field as you can. I know many people, including myself, got an internship offer after getting an interview at a career fair. I would have never even known about the company or application process if it wasn’t for the fact that I attended the career fairs this semester.

Career fairs open you up to so many companies that you may have never even heard before. This is an awesome opportunity to broaden your horizons, work on your professional and communicating skills, and find a job or internship.

Career fairs are never mandatory however, they are a huge factor in finding internships and jobs unless you already have one lined up.

Coming out of high school, you need all the help you can get with communicating professionally and honing your interview skills. Even if you don’t get any interviews or job offers out of it, it is still a great experience and can help you grow so much as a student and a professional.

I had many interviews this semester that didn’t lead to offers, but I feel that they helped me with my interviewing and professional skills tremendously.


Overall there are many great things about career fairs. Always do your research and make sure you are prepared. They are usually never required unless possibly for extra credit, but I encourage you to take them just as seriously (if not more) than your classes.

Researching about career fairs at universities might give you a good idea of how much networking that university has to offer.

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