So, your college is holding an internship fair, and you'd love to land something that could get you some crucial experience and grow your network. Follow these simple networking tips to improve your chances of landing the internship of your dreams.
1.Research the Companies
If you want to find the best internship opportunities, then you need information about all the companies at the career fair. Check the career fair's website for a list of the companies that plan to attend, so you have time to prepare to network effectively. If the website doesn't have that information available within a month of the career fair, email or call the sponsor to ask for the details. Fair websites typically offer a list of the companies, information about each company and what positions each one has open. Find more information through online searches and through company websites.
2.Make Lists of Internship Opportunities
At large internship fairs, it's impossible to meet with every company, and that's not an effective career strategy anyway, as you spread yourself too thin trying to network with everyone. It's better to have a select number of excellent meetings than a large number of average meetings. Once you have more information about the companies, start figuring out which ones seem most appealing. Look for internship opportunities that are a good fit for you, meaning both you and the company benefit from the internship. Make two lists of companies, a high-priority list for those companies you definitely want to network with, and a medium-priority list for companies you plan to meet if you have enough time.
3. Network With Alumni
You can only learn so much about a company through online information. Contact the college alumni who work at companies of interest to learn more about those companies, and find out how to make a good impression during your meetings. See if they can give you any insight as to whom you should be talking to at the career fair.
4. Prepare Your Resume
If your resume is unprofessional or doesn't fit the internship opportunity, companies aren't going to take you seriously. Make sure your resume follows standard guidelines and is free of errors. If you plan to apply to similar types of internships, you can use one resume. However, if you plan to apply to internships in different fields, create customized versions of your resume for each internship type. Make sure you have them in a portfolio by topic so you can easily pull the correct resume out when you're networking.
5. Make Your Marketing Materials
Companies meet so many people at internship fairs that names and faces can get lost in the shuffle. Print plenty of copies of your resume, and don't be afraid to find other ways to show off relevant work examples and experience. For example, if you're a graphic designer, your designs are just as important as your resume, so you need to find a way to display them. One easy way to do so is by bringing a laptop or tablet along to the fair, so you can show companies your work on the device. Another option is load your work to flash drives or burning your work onto CDs, which you can then provide to companies upon request. Look for creative ways to demonstrate your abilities while you're networking.
6. Get Your Bag Ready
With people everywhere and tons of noise, an internship fair can quickly become a stressful situation. It's even worse if you meet the company of your dreams, but then can't find any of your prepared materials. Make it easy for yourself by organizing a bag with all your supplies and materials well in advance. If you have custom material prepared for each company, sort it using folders. Being organized not only helps you stay calm, it also helps you exude a professional appearance to everyone you network with.
Before the career fair, run through a few practice conversations in your head, so you know exactly what to say during your meetings. The employer may do most of the talking, but it's good to be prepared with an introduction and a few statements about your skills. With proper preparation, making a great first impression is a breeze and so is networking your way into a new job.
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