It’s January, you’re up to your neck in exams and coursework deadlines, you're suffering from a serious case of the post-Christmas blues, and yet now is the time of year to weigh up your career options and consider what you will be doing after graduation. It’s easy to think "well, I have plenty of time until I graduate, I don’t need to think about my prospective career options," but believe me, the time flies by and before you know it, final exams will be over, you’ll have packed your room at uni and will be thinking, "well what do I do next?" Many people go into uni knowing exactly what career they would like to go into, and yet, although they know their career they are unsure how to break into it, and where to find the jobs - this is where careers fairs come into play.

Why attend a Careers Fair?

Opportunities

- attending careers fairs makes you aware of the many different types of careers you may be interested in pursuing. It's best to go in with an open mind as, just because, for example, you studied Geography, it doesn't mean you can only apply for jobs specialising and requiring a Geography degree. Many employers are interested in your overall skillset, and many graduates follow career paths that have no real link to their degree subject. You will, also, be made aware of the vacancies opening in various companies and how you can apply.

Networking

- careers fairs are a great way to meet lots of potential new employers or contacts within the industry. Sometimes someone may be able to recommend a job to you or speak about their own experiences. 

Future Careers Options

- for those of you who haven't decided on a career path, careers fairs provide a multitude of potential new opportunities and can give a brilliant insight into the varied jobs available. 

Stand Out from the Crowd

- attending careers fairs and speaking to a potential employer shows you are keen and enthusiastic, and many employers organise interviews with candidates they like and have met previously. 

Industry Information 

- many companies provide pamphlets and booklets about their companies and other valuable research information. 

Talk Directly to Employers and Previous Graduates 

- now is the chance to find out what it is really like working for your dream employer: the working hours; benefits; pay; negative aspects; the nature of the job; and the possibility of further training. 

When are they on?

Careers fairs take place throughout the whole academic year, but it is in your interest to attend as early as possible, perhaps within the autumn semester to make the most of meeting potential employers. You can find further information about the different careers fairs on the Prospects website for graduate employment and post-graduate study. Additionally contact your universities careers advisors for information about careers fairs that may be visiting your university.

How can I prepare?

Research

- find out which companies are attending and find out about them. Companies will be interested if you have done some background research.

Take copies of your CV

- this way, you can hand them out to the companies you are interested in working with.

Prepare questions

- take a list of questions you would like to ask prospective employers.

Create a list of companies you would like to meet

- this way you can manage your time more effectively.

Prepare a brief introduction

- which would summarise your interest in the company, your skills and attributes, and why you think you would be the perfect person to work for that company.

And remember…

  • Dress smartly
  • Take a notebook and pen
  • Be confident and positive
  • Do your research