Preparing for the Technical Career Fair: Tips

Gain a competitive edge at the fair!

Consult the following tips and come prepared to meet employers:

1. Research information about companies before the fair.  First, find out which companies are coming. Here’s the list of participants for this year, with links to their company websites.

Research companies to find out: 

  • What the business does
  • The products or services that it provides
  • The kind of employees they look for (both specific skills desired and personality/approach)

Knowing this kind of information will help you stand out with potential employers. Visit company websites to do further research – especially sections of the website called “About Us” or “Careers”.

Come prepared with a list of targeted, specific, and well-informed questions to ask when meeting recruiters.  Don’t ask very basic questions that the company website information answers (e.g. “What does your company do anyway?”) Instead, ask questions that help you learn more about their field, about their company culture and their organization – and that you’re actually interested in hearing the answer to. Some examples:

  • What are some of the biggest problems and challenges currently facing your organization? What kind of changes or growth do you expect your field or organization to experience in the next 6-12 months?
  • What skills and knowledge are most needed in your field or organization these days? What about in junior positions?

 You can also ask questions that let you reveal something about yourself. Some examples:

  • “My technical writing skills are quite good. What kinds of opportunities might that open up within your company?”
  • “I really enjoy working on team-based projects. Does your company do much of its work this way?”

2. Prepare your resume. Here are some resources to help you in writing or refining your resume.

  • Good general resources about resume writing (how-to video clips, sample resumes)  are available on the UBC Student Services website.
  • The ICCS Reading Room (ICCS Room 262) has a number of books about resume writing available for students.
  • The Centre for Student Involvement and Careers regularly offers resume clinics and resume advising services open to all students – see schedule here
  • Drop-in resume editing sessions for Computer Science students (times for this will be listed in the weekly "Upcoming Events" email sent to Computer Science undergraduates)

NOTE: Some companies will accept your hard copy resume at the Technical Career Fair. Others will tell you to submit it online through their company’s careers website. Come with hard copies of your resume just in case.

3. Dress appropriately. Business casual (more formal than typical student attire, but less formal than a suit) is the typical dress code for the Technical Career Fair. Pants and collared shirts or polo shirts work well for men. Dress pants or skirts paired with blouses or sweaters work well for women. When in doubt, lean towards a more conservative style and always make sure that your appearance is neat and tidy.

4. Make a good first impression. Along with your professional appearance, introducing yourself to the employer with a smile, a clear, confident-sounding voice, a firm handshake, and good eye contact all help to make a good impression.

Prepare and practice your introduction of yourself in advance – with friends or family, or even in front of the mirror.

Your introduction should include:

  • your name
  • your area of study
  • your interests, and
  • (most importantly) your skills

Here's a sample:  

"Hi, my name is Joseph Smith. I'm a 4th year Computer Science major with previous experience in Java, C and C++ programming. I’ve completed one summer internship as a junior software developer.  I’m looking for new grad positions in software development or QA. Does your company have any opportunities that might fit with my goals?"

5. Decide beforehand which companies interest you. Based on your company research, create a list of the top three to five employers you want to meet with.

 On the day of the fair, start by approaching the last employer on your list. Work your way up your list from your lowest-ranked employer to your highest. You'll get warmed up and practice your conversation and approach before meeting the employer that appeals to you the most.

6.  Always follow up. When you meet employers at the fair, ask them if you can have one of their business cards. Follow up with these people by sending them a short thank you email, or your resume. Remember to keep your writing professional.  

Here's an example of a thank you note (in this case, someone trying to get a new grad software development position in the finance/banking industry):

Hi John,

It was great speaking with you at the UBC Technical Career Fair last Wednesday. Thanks for taking the time to tell me about all the opportunities available with Company X. As I mentioned, I'm really interested in exploring entry-level software developer positions in the finance sector. Your company really seems to be a good fit with my professional goals.

 I'm sending you my resumé in the hopes that my experience and skills might be a good fit for the Junior Developer position you mentioned. I would also appreciate it if you could let me know of other potential opportunities if they are available.

 Thank you again. Feel free to reach me at 604-XXX-XXXX or (your email address) if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Student X

BSc, Computer Science (May 2016)

7.  Optional: an additional way to be memorable -- bring business cards. Business cards are an effective way for job seekers and professionals alike to share contact information and stay memorable.

Offer your business card to the employers you meet and request to have one of theirs. Good business cards can be printed inexpensively at most printing companies or ordered online.

So that contacts can remember you and follow up accordingly, make sure your card includes:

  • Your name
  • Your telephone number
  • Your email address, and
  • Your area of study or area of interest

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