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How to Network at Job/Internship Events

By Themoderngrad @TheModernGrad


How to Network at Job/Internship Events

To kick off my new blog, I thought I’d start off talking about the most important aspect of job searching, NETWORKING.

Last week, I attended the Part-Time Job and Internship Fair at UIC. Some of the companies recruiting included Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Groupon, and Centage Learning. The event was free for UIC students and $10 for non-UIC students. Students were expected to dress professionally and have a stack of resumes to hand out to potential employers.

I spoke to about 7 employers at the event and already had one job offer for Spring Break and a great conversation with a recruiter. The chance to speak with an employer face-to-face while handing in your resume is more memorable than opening a resume on Google docs. So it is important to take advantage of events like this and do it right! I couldn’t help but notice other students who didn’t seem they had the skills to land their dream job. In response to my observation, here is a brief list of do’s and don’ts on how to network the RIGHT way at events similar to this one.

DO’S

1. DO dress professionally. First impressions are everything and it shows that you’re there not just to pass the time between class hours.

2. DO ask recruiters questions about the type of person they are looking for. Many companies will state they are looking for various positions. So be sure to ask specifically what they want so you’ll have a better idea if the job/internship works best for you.

3. DO sell yourself. Just a brief description of your skills, talent, and experience is just fine. A good hint is to state what you would write in a cover letter!

4. DO stay organized.  For example, at the job fair, a sheet of paper was handed out stating all the companies and what they are looking for. I crossed off the companies that were looking for specific job titles outside of my field. I checked the companies that seemed to best fit my needs. This saved me a lot of time to focus on important job opportunities rather than visiting every booth.

5. DO present your resume in a nice portfolio folder. When they ask for a resume, they don’t want to see you digging into a banged up old folder. Presenting your portfolio in a professional way will make you look like you take pride in your resume and that it is valuable to you.

DON’TS

1. DON’T show up in jeans. I was incredibly embarrassed for a young girl in banged up boots, an oversized sweatshirt, and jeans talking to a potential recruiter. The recruiter was obviously not impressed. It lowers your credibility!

2. DON’T go into a tangent about yourself. Stating your credentials with confidence is one thing, but going on about how great you are, just makes you look arrogant.  Try not to be overconfident.

NOTE: I’ve seen this on resumes when working at IIDA last summer. Having 20 awards is WONDERFUL, but having them all mentioned on resume taking up 1/3 of the page was a turn off.

3. DON’T stand in the corner, put your self out there. I noticed a lot of students on the sidelines looking bashful. Recruiters will notice that and when you finally decide to come up and say something, they’ll already have a pre-judgment of the type of person you are.

4. DON’T (well try) not to disturb others in line. Some students may be nervous or trying to stay focused while waiting to talk to a recruiter. Even at other networking events, realize that some people may only be present to land a job, not to socialize about what they did over the weekend.

5. DON’T walk up casually as if you just walked up to a hot dog stand at Millennium Park. For example, I heard a student walk up to a recruiter booth saying “ohh, what do we got here? Oh a Russian company, eh? I speak Spanish, do I qualify?” All I can say is, eek!

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