Student Blog: I Went to a Careers Fair and All I Got Was This Lousy Tote Bag

Written by Max Ibbotson, Final Year English Language Student and Careers Service Student Blogger

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You’ve heard about The Grad Fair coming up soon, haven’t you? Surely you have: littered between every meme and Game of Thrones spoiler is another post about how to prepare or what to ask recruiters or whether you should write ‘PLEASE HIRE ME’ on your forehead. But, you’re not sure if you should go, are you? You’ve got a million and one other things to do, like avoiding revision by going to the pub or actually watching Game of Thrones. Again.

Well, you’re not alone. Plenty of people avoid careers fairs: they don’t have time, they’re not interested in any of the companies there, or maybe they just don’t know what to do. And they have a point, because how are you supposed to make worthwhile use of your time if you don’t even know what you’re going to do with it yet?

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A few months ago, I sort of knew what I wanted to do, but there were no companies at the careers fair that offered the kind of job that I wanted. I spent a lot of time umm-ing and ahh-ing, working out whether I should bother going or not. But then I realised that I was doing sod all else on a Wednesday afternoon, and that going to the fair seemed the perfect way to look as though I was looking for a job even though I had absolutely no intention of actually getting one.

I went, I saw, I was underwhelmed: I do English Language but most of the employers there were accounting firms, banks and that one company that you see everywhere but you’ve got no idea what they do – none of them seemed to apply to me.

Things You Should Do That I Didn’t:

I wasn’t able to make the most out of my time there for one reason – I expected to get nothing out of it. All you need to do to make it worthwhile is the following:

  1. Raid the literature – you’d be surprised how many different pamphlets and brochures there are about getting a job. Everything, from working out what you want to do to in-depth advice on how to present yourself in an interview, is covered and super useful.
  2. Get chatting – it can be easy to forget that the large companies that turn up to these events don’t just do what they say on the tin. These firms will house a huge array of sectors and departments that may have absolutely nothing to with what that company does. The rep can give you information on what other opportunities are available.
  3. FREEBIES – I mean, what’s not to like about free stuff? Pens, lanyards, tote bags!!! (The bags are vital – how else are you gonna carry all those pamphlets I was on about?)

Regardless of your situation, careers fairs are useful. You don’t necessarily need a plan of who you want to see or what you want to ask, you just need an open mind – it will surprise you.

Sign up for The Grad Fair

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