Career Tips

Five Steps To Navigating Career Fairs

By Jessica Colombo and Dave Isbell

The upcoming Diversity Career Fair is MSU’s second largest annual event, and attendees can expect a pretty busy night at the Kellogg Center! The annual scrambling of students (and a hand full of smart alumni) vying for internships and full-time positions resembles the annual running of the bulls in Spain.  The only difference is that its done in suits and high-heels, which is pretty impressive if you ask us, but vicious nonetheless.  Here are some tips on how to stand out from the crowd and survive the chaos of an MSU Career Fair.

Be yourself

Oscar Wilde gives the best advice, “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.” Employers are not interested in hiring robots. You are unique, which is why employers will want to hire you, so let it shine through!

Show off those pearly whites

A genuine smile is a game changer.  Immediately, you will become approachable and positive.  Your smile can lead you into the initial conversation with the recruiter, but it’s your job to add the enthusiasm and spark that will guarantee an interview.

Be in the know

Get your hands on a list of employers beforehand and make a prioritized list of the companies to make sure you speak with.  Research those companies online so you’ll have some talking points ready.  If you have enough time in advance, connect with a few of the recruiters on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook. Take some time to build the relationship with the person so when they meet you at the Career Fair, they are as excited as you are!

Make a game plan

Career Fairs can be daunting.  When you arrive, grab a map and take a little time to go over it and lay out your plan of attack.  This way, you will know exactly where you’re going instead of meandering around without a sense of purpose or direction.

Dress to impress

In this context, think ‘dress to impress the CEO’, not  ‘dress to impress a guy/lady at the bar’. It is very important to make this distinction to put your best self forward to make the best first impression possible in these often very brief career fair encounters.

This all seems like pretty straightforward and simple advice, and it is. However, it is shocking for those of us on the inside to witness just how much of these “simple” ideas are often thrown out in practice. The little things really can make or break a moment, but if you show up ready, you can expect great things!


Jessica Colombo is the Communications Assistant for the MSU Alumni Career Services office. She is a Senior at Michigan State, studying Marketing and is planning to help a yet-to-be-announced organization rule the world (with kindness, of course) after she graduates.  Find her on Twitter @jcolombo

Dave Isbell has been a Career Coach since 1999, and holds professional certifications in the field (GCDF, ETS, and JCTC.) In his current role as the MSU Alumni Career Service Coordinator, he is fortunate to get to help Spartans find their “compassion” and then to connect with other people whom they can then collaborate with to do meaningful things. He is also working on a Master’s in Social Work, with an emphasis on Family Studies at MSU. When he is not working, studying, or attempting domestic bliss, he can be found reading, watching, or listening to something deeply profound or guiltily shallow. He occasionally plays rock music on a bass guitar, guitar, or drums, but those occasions are very few because he feels more pressured to work on term papers than to pluck, strum, or bang on something.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: