Reminding your students to follow up after a career fair

March 15, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in career center | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

After a successful career fair, students are often in a state of euphoria because they met representatives from companies that they consider future employers or internship sites. The companies have their resumes, and the students have their business cards or contact information.  Now all they have to do is wait for the email or phone call, offering them an interview, an internship, or even a job–or so they think.  As a career services professional, it’s your job to introduce them to the real world of follow up. Your office may be able to provide college note cards for students to use to write thank you notes.

To emphasize that the career fair is only the first step in an ongoing campaign to launch a career, you might suggest the following activities that will help them realize their future goals:

  • Correspondence:  Write a brief letter or note and send it to each person with whom you spoke. Consider sending your “Thank you for your time” note via snail mail since emails may get lost in junk mail or in the deluge of emails in a busy person’s inbox. Start off by thanking him/her for the information about the company, and then ask if you may come in for an informational interview to learn more about the industry. At this point, you aren’t asking for an internship or a job; you simply want to develop a professional relationship with the company of your choice. Future correspondence could include holiday cards, congratulatory notes on new product releases or company accomplishments, or news of your own awards or new additions to your resume.
  • Class assignment:  Demonstrate your active interest in the company by selecting a subject/product, history, or significant event as a topic for a class paper or project. The company may even provide a topic that interests them, such as how to expand its  market on college campuses.  Most companies feel an obligation to help students in educational pursuits, which means they’ll be willing to provide information for the project or to agree to talk to students on the proposed project.  Whether it’s a team effort or an individual one, you might ask a company representative to attend the final report presentation.  At the very least you could send the report to the company, ensuring that the recipient remembers who you are when you do call for an internship or job.
  • Networking:  When you’ve found a company where you want to work, start researching and building a network. Sign up for LinkedIn and create a profile that highlights the skills required by your target company. Also, post a question asking if anyone on LinkedIn knows an employee in your target company. Visit the campus career center to find out what the staff can tell you about the company. Check at the alumni office to find out if any alumni are employed at that company and could introduce you to the appropriate personnel or give you a recommendation. Ask your professors if they know anyone at the company. Many professors do consulting for outside firms and may be able to help you with contacts. Find out if the company sponsors any volunteer or community events in which you could offer your services as a way to network with employees.  Effective networking may take months to do, but it does pay off, literally.

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