• Career Fair Best Practices: Part 1

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    September 18, 2013

    NACE recently posted an inquiry on its JobPlace listserv seeking best practices career centers use to ensure their career fairs meet the needs and/or exceed the expectations of their students and employers. Following are some of the best practices your colleagues shared for Part 1 of this series:

    • Cindy Cone, assistant director of career services for internships at Buena Vista University, says it can be difficult to draw in employers for all-day job fairs because of the school's location in northwest Iowa.

    "Two years ago, we created a targeted networking event—Career Connect—that has reaped huge rewards for our students and high praise from invited employers," Cone says.

    Buena Vista's Career Connect will be held over two days in March 2014. The first day will focus on business, exercise science, and communication majors, while the second session will be for students seeking careers in the technology, education, and nonprofit fields.

    Employers are separated by industry and speak briefly about their organizations, opportunities, and application processes. Then, they take questions from the students. After approximately 45 minutes, all attendees convene to a reception area where the employers can network with the students in attendance from all three rooms.

    "This is short, sweet, and targeted for our both our students and our employers," Cone notes.

    • The Utah State University office of career services and student success offers a "student host" program during its career fairs, through which students can host an attending organization in which they are interested. Student hosts help the employer's career fair representatives load and unload their materials, set up, and add value to the entire experience.

    "Of course, students network for internships or employment without the stress of a formal interview," explains Donna Crow, executive director of the university's office of career services and student success. "This relationship building has led many students to receive an offer of employment or an interview the day of or soon after the career fair. It also gives the student an advocate inside the organization."

    The office of career services and student success holds a continental breakfast for employers and hosts, and provides a special name badge for the student hosts.

    "This helps the hosts make a great first impression on the other employers they approach that day," Crow notes. "This program has become well known on campus, and students often ask us when the student host sign-ups are going live."

    • The career planning and development office at Indiana Tech has partnered with the National Society for Black Engineers for several years to provide a "stress-free room" for students during the fair.

    "There are coat racks, mirrors, mints, hand sanitizer, water, and other resources available to students," explains Cindy Verduce, Indiana Tech's director of learning support services and career planning and development. "Society members, staff, and faculty also are available to calm jittery nerves or to help tie ties. If students don't have them, free ties are also available."

    Verduce notes that students can come and go during the fair, so if they need a break, they have a place to go.

    "It has been a big hit here at Indiana Tech," she says.