Preparing for Career Expo
Our annual Fall Career Expo is just around the corner! On September 26th, over 200 employers will be on campus at the CFE Arena from 10:00am-3:00pm to recruit current students and alumni for a variety of job opportunities. While this is an excellent opportunity to find out about available job openings, this can be a great way for your student to simply explore career pathways and companies that relate to their interest areas. How can you help prepare your student for this event? Here are some tips and strategies to share with your student to help them explore career types and network successfully:
1) Self-assessment is a key factor in gauging interest areas and related career opportunities.
• Begin by visiting our online resource portal (http://career.ucf.edu/resources/links/) and taking online assessments through MyPlan.
• Exploring one’s personality type, interests, skills, and values can help your student identify possible careers of interest and gain a better understanding of his or her strengths, weaknesses, and preferred work environments.
2) An important strategy is to prepare before the event.
• Your student can research companies in advance through Handshake (http://csel.ucf.edu/) and update his or her resume in our office during drop-in hours.
• During Career Readiness Week, which occurs the week before Expo, students can sign up for a resume critique and/or mock interview with employers on campus, as well as attend a variety of workshops on professional development and networking strategies.
• When conducting employer research, have your student refer back to his or her self-assessments. Evaluate whether or not the company fits with their interests and preferred work environment. If unsure, mark these as companies to explore at the expo to ask about company culture, work environment, and career opportunities.
3) Have your student practice their 1-minute infomercial.
• This is his or her brief summary response to the question, “Tell me about yourself,” or how he or she will introduce themselves to an employer.
• It should briefly capture what your student is doing now (what’s his or her major, anticipated graduation date, current job or club involvement), what has he or she done recently (internships, research, class projects, accomplishments), and what opportunities is he or she looking for.
• For those exploring careers, mention 2-3 interest areas or goals related to their major. This goes along with a confident and enthusiastic handshake and smile with direct eye contact.
4) Dress to impress! This is your student’s chance to put their best face forward and create a professional and positive first impression. Visit http://career.ucf.edu/students/interviews/ to view some tips on what to wear for a professional look. Additionally, professional suits are available on loan for students through Knightro’s Suits (https://ucfsga.com/services/knightros-suits/), a collaboration between SGA and Knights Pantry.
5) During the Career Expo, your student will need to check into the student registration area, pick up a floor map, and take a moment to orient his or herself.
• Your student should bring many copies of his or her resume to provide to employers. Even if your student is just exploring career interests, employers will want to review resumes and use them as a conversation guide.
• Begin by reviewing the floor map of employers (provided at Expo) to come up with a plan of action of where to start and who to talk to first. Refer to list of targeted employers created while researching and preparing for Expo.
• Encourage your student to practice his or her infomercial, research employers, and check attire by visiting our Career Expo “Ready Room” before heading inside for the real thing. A LinkedIn Photo Booth is also available to provide complimentary headshots to students while they’re dressed in their professional best!
• Collect business cards and make notes on the back about key conversation points.
• Follow up with employers via phone or email within 24 hours expressing thanks and enthusiasm. To explore career interests, inquire about opportunities to job shadow or conduct informational interviews with employers.
6) After the fair, encourage your students to visit our office to discuss how to follow up and maintain communication with contacts made, as well as learn about job shadowing and informational interviews
While Expo can be overwhelming due to its size and gravity, it can be fun and exciting if one prepares well and approaches it with enthusiasm and professionalism. For questions about this event, how to prepare, or how your student can schedule an appointment with our office, please visit us at http://career.ucf.edu/ or call us at 407.823.2361.