If you were wafting around the Business Design Centre at the first installment of the two-day London Graduate Fair, chances are you might have caught a glimpse of Enternships’ collectively beaming countenance. You may even have paused at our stand to indulge in a chat and a lollipop. If not – if you, like many others, don’t quite know where to start with this whole student/graduate fair malarkey – here’s our countdown of stuff to bear in mind…
10: Don’t just do it for the pens
The bare minimum number of companies you should aim to speak to is ten. And by speak, we don’t mean a brief “hello” preceding a Supermarket-Sweep-style stunt which sees you making off into the distance with enough free stationery to put WHSmith out of business. The aim of the game is to have a meaningful conversation with your potential future employer; at the very least, it’s an opportunity to pick the brains of the representative to get a better idea of what a company does, as well as their company culture. At best, the person you speak to could be actively involved in the recruitment process and you might just talk yourself into an interview.
9: Unlucky for some…
Word on the street is that the number nine is unlucky to the Japanese because it sounds like the word for “pain” or “distress”. On the other hand, cats get nine lives, so they’re probably a fan of the number. We mere humans might not share this feline good fortune, but we do have plenty of opportunities for reincarnation as far as profession is concerned – these fair shindigs might be mainly populated by students and graduates, but if you’re angling for a career change after a few years of working in a particular industry, they can be a super source of fresh inspiration.
8: The Eight Deadly Sins
Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony, and not swotting up in advance on which companies are going to be at the fair you’re attending. If you have even a vague idea of the types of companies present before you get there, you’ll have a useful starting point when you walk through the doors to be faced with the inevitable onslaught of banners, logos and slogans all vying for your attention.
7: Make time
There are seven days in a week. A whole seven! This means you CAN make the time to spend a couple of hours moseying around one of these events which could inspire your future professional path, no matter how busy you are enjoying the absence of exams.
6: Six months to shake a stick at
The number of months (on average) that a new graduate spends on the job market before sourcing a full-time job, according to a 2012 study by the Guardian. And trust us, half a year of uncertainty about Life In General feels a helluva lot longer than half a year at university. If you have the opportunity to attend a careers fair while still a student, grab it with both arms, legs, ears, eyes, and any other body parts you can spare.
5: Early birds, worms, etcetera
On an energy-depicting scale from 1 to 5, where 5 = bouncing off the walls and 0 = virtually comatose, you want to catch the company representatives at level 5, while they’ve still got enough reserves of energy and vocal volume at their disposal to have a decent conversation with you. You’re more likely to have valuable exchanges at the beginning of the day. So sacrifice the lie-in and be early.
4: The number of free pens you should aim to acquire
We’re not completely mad – pens are useful.
3: Safety in numbers?
Three seems to be the average pack size of curious groups of students and graduates. Treating a career fair as a group excursion might up the fun-factor, but beware: it also encourages a window shopping mentality, which is fine for perusing comedy sunglasses but of more questionable value with regard to your career. Although exhibition centres bulging at the seams with hundreds of companies can seem daunting, there’s a lot to be said for taking the plunge and going it alone, so that you’re free to follow your instincts and approach companies at your own whim.
2: Loud and proud
An average person has only two ears (thanks, evolution) and exhibition centres get pretty noisy when they’re stuffed to the brim with clods of boisterous people. So speak up, and offer a handshake plus your most irresistible smile when you introduce yourself to someone – especially when it looks like the company is interested in direct recruitment.
1: Make the most of it
Do not leave the fair before you’ve spent at least one hour there. When you’ve had your fill of edible and non-edible branded freebies, do the circuit again, this time stopping at stands where something other than the astonishing variety of Haribo on offer takes your fancy.
Voila. Easy as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6… and so on. And if you’re ready to immerse yourself in the world of brilliant opportunities, get signed up to Enternships quick-smart. We look forward to bumping into you at a future event (don’t forget the lollipop).
By Corissa Nunn, European Development at Enternships