SEASON 4 | Episode 1 | 8 Career Fair Prep Tips & Season 4 Expectations

My heart thumped so audibly I could swear the people around me could have heard it. I kept drying the sweat off my hands discreetly…

I was dressed in the nicest dress pants, top, and blazer my college kid budget could afford.  Probably in some hand-me-down flats to top it off.  (I was and am still too clumsy for heels…)

I was at my first Virginia Tech Myers Lawson School of Construction career fair.  It was massive and packed full of booths and bodies!

But I took a few deep breaths and remembered that I prepared for this event.  I had my research notes and resumes in hand.  I knew exactly which companies I wanted to talk to.  And I knew the statistics that being a student at this school afforded me:  100% employment rate upon graduation.  I had this!  I knew I would find an opportunity for myself!

I landed my first internship the same day as the career fair because of these steps.  Honestly, after I spoke to a couple of industry professionals, my nerves started to subside drastically.  I had proven to myself that my preparations had been worthwhile.  I could speak intelligibly about what I had learned about each company and where I could picture myself fitting in with their team.

The few days prior to the career fair, I mapped out 8 steps to prepare for the career fair, and this method became my go-to approach each time I had one to prepare for.

Are you ready to steal my strategy?

8 steps to Prep for Your Next CAreer FAir

STEP 1 – Build that Base Resume!  Create or update your resume.  You can include a general objective for the time being.  You will build from this later.

STEP 2 – Dream Big!  List what you want out of your ideal career.  Include things like markets you want to work in, roles you want to try, company culture points that matter to you, locations, etc.

STEP 3 – Research Your Dream Companies!  Review the list of companies you know will be attending the career fair and research the ones that appeal to you based on your Dream List.

STEP 4 – Update Your Resume!  Update your resume to reflect your career lifestyle goals and customize it to the different companies you want to talk to.  This may mean keeping a few different versions on you.  (Quick tip:  Afraid you’ll hand out the wrong one?  Put sticky notes on top of every copy with each company name on it.  I always had the right copy on top in my folder and removed the sticker before I approached each booth.  I also kept a few of those generic ones in the back in case.)

STEP 5 – Pay Attention to First Impressions! – Pick out an outfit and have it ready the day before. Keep it simple, clean, and wrinkle-free.  Remember firm handshakes and eye contact impact first impressions.

STEP 6 – Plan Out Your Experience!  Map out where your target companies’ booths are.  Is there a company that you would feel most comfortable visiting first?  Eat and stay hydrated!  Clear out the clutter in your mind.  Take deep breaths. 

STEP 7 – Find Familiar Faces!  Start off talking to people you know or are familiar with.  Get those last-minute jitters out.

STEP 8 – Kill it!  It’s ok if you are anxious.  (Personal Note:  For me, that is usually a sign of how important the situation is to me.  It adds fuel to my fire to push past my anxiety.)

Recruiters are looking for that human connection and passion.  If you bring that to the table, you are headed in the right direction.  They want to see you prepared. 

They don’t expect you to have your whole life mapped out, but they do expect you to know what interests you as a human being, and what you would like to explore in the industry.

If you can carry on a conversation focused on those things, you are headed in the right direction. 

If you are worried about your lack of construction experience, you are ok.  You are in the same boat as a ton of the students. 

While some companies are more competitive and require you to have one or two internships under your belt first, there are so many others that want to bring on first-time interns!

You can reframe those non-construction job experiences as transferable skills!  They also look at your extracurriculars with a similar lens.  And each time you go through the process it gets easier.

But if you are still nervous, please reach out with your questions.  I’m never far away.

Additional Episode Takeaways

– I have committed to more solo episodes this season focused on career fair prep, the interview process, adjusting to life post-graduation, and what is next for me as I enter motherhood.

– I will include 6 bonus episodes with a new co-host, Dr. Andrew McCoy, to talk about the construction research perspective of renewable energy, affordable housing, and 3D concrete printing!

– We will of course still have interviews with amazing women in AEC.  We will cover topics such as Career Fair Prep, Sponsorship, Psychological Safety, Stormwater Management, Opportunities for Assistant Superintendents, Marketing in Construction, Life Safety, and Building Codes.

– Ever curious about my path into construction?  I share that chapter of my story in this episode.  I also share it in this blog post here.

Episode resources

– Andrew McCoy:

how to connect with us

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