How to prepare for Career Days
Unsure about life after graduation? Same here.
Graduating can be an unsettling mix of exciting and terrifying. Curb some of that uneasiness by attending Career Days and Graduate & Professional Schools Fair where you can talk with 100+ exhibitors, make meaningful connections with employers and grad schools - and feel a little more prepared for what's beyond your undergrad degree. You’ll get the chance to chat with students who are in the same boat, get insider tips from hiring managers, and meet employers looking to recruit.
If this is your first time attending, or you’re feeling a bit nervous about networking, here are some tips on how to prepare for career days.
Have a gameplan
Over 90 organizations and 60 schools will be attending Career Days, so research the organizations and schools you'd like to visit beforehand – and avoid wading aimlessly through a crowded Nest.
Check out the exhibitors and prepare a resume and cover letter unique to the ones you’re interested in. You can even RSVP to a resume and cover letter workshop before you attend the event and have a Career Peer Coach review your resume.
If you’re thinking about further education but aren’t too sure where to start, go to a session on how to plan for graduate school.
Always ask questions. Questions that a Google search can’t answer. Questions that challenge and that demonstrate your unique interest and value. When else will you have the chance to talk to a recruiter for Amazon or a law professor from McMaster University?
Pick their brains and ask questions that benefit you and that’ll show that you’ve done your homework.
Consider questions that spark an informative dialogue, such as:
What kind of advice would you give a student with my degree?
What skills and experience do you look for in an ideal candidate or intern?
Network (like a human person!)
Networking. It can conjure up images of suits and phony small talk ending with an awkward business card exchange – but it doesn’t need to. Networking can be a very human way of making new connections that aren’t limited to professionals and employers.
Alliterations are always cheesy – but in this case they can be helpful too. When in doubt, remember the 4 Ps of networking:
Prepared. Show that you care by doing your research on the school or company you’re talking to.
Personable. Be genuine. Find common ground and interests – and listen! A lot of us are guilty of waiting for our turn to talk rather than actually listening.
Professional. Don’t talk about the party you were at last night, and dress to impress. (That being said, don’t rent a tux – the event will be business casual.)
Purposeful. Think about why you are networking and what questions you want answered. This will influence what you contribute and take away from an interaction.
If you’re unsure about how to approach professionals, book an informational interview with someone in the field of work you’re interested in. Approach it as a learning opportunity that allows you to sit in the interviewer seat (a nice change) and ask questions to gain a better understanding of the working world. And don’t be intimidated - you’ll be surprised how open people are to talk about their work and give you advice.
Pro tip: After Career Days, take the initiative in contacting the employer with a follow-up or thank you email – this leaves a great impression as well as a point of contact.
Check out UBC’s largest annual Career Days and Graduate & Professional Schools Fair on October 18 and 19 at the AMS Nest.
To make the most of your Career Days experience, check out the Learning Lab opportunities on October 16 and 17 for tips and resources on engaging with employers.