It’s that time of the year again, when the Recreational Sports Facility transforms into a loud and jampacked hub of tables and lines of students anxiously waiting their turn. Students, leave your ripped jeans, UC Berkeley apparel and Birkenstocks at home, because it’s time for the 2019 Cal Career Fair. The Cal Career Fair is an opportunity, most notably for seniors and graduate students, to get a head start on job hunting and to practice your career pitch along with a memorable introduction. For those of you who are new to campus — freshmen, transfers and even those who are looking to better your experience the second or third time around — this starter pack will ensure that you’ll be prepared for your first career fair. For those of you who may be attending the career fair for the first time, it will be held for business and public service opportunities Sept. 17 and for STEM opportunities Sept. 18-19. Each day will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Planning ahead for the career fair is brutally important, so here are some tips.
This isn’t the act of physically shaking a person’s hand with one’s own, although you should have a strong handshake and make eye contact when first meeting someone. Handshake is an application that helps students search for local and out-of-state jobs and internships, company information sessions and upcoming networking events that are all on campus for UC Berkeley students!
The Handshake application can be downloaded on your phone for tackling your job or internship search on the go. Most importantly, the application has all the information for events such as the upcoming career fair, including a list of employers with a summary of what each company does and a map of where each employer is situated, so that you can make a list of which companies you want to connect with and give your resume to.
Before you go to the career fair, it’s important that you prepare your resume. On the UC Berkeley Career Center’s website, you can find guides, videos and samples of resumes to help you write your own resume. Ask a trusted friend to look over your resume for typos and give suggestions, or even better, go to the Career Center and have the professionally trained staff go over it with you. Print out 10 or more copies of your resume, depending on how many employers you plan to visit. This helps employers reference you later if they think you’re the perfect fit.
Having a nice folder at an event such as the career fair is just as important as having your wallet when you go to a restaurant. A folder will hold all your printed out resumes and give you a place to put the copious amount of handouts, flyers and business cards you’re about to receive. A folder keeps your hands free from juggling multiple things, allowing you to be better engaged with employers and recruiters. In addition to this folder, you should have a pen and something to write on, such as a small notepad, so that you can write down any information you are given, furthering your engagement.
Business casual attire
Business casual entails a shirt with a collar, khakis, slacks, nice “leather” shoes, dressy flats, a knee-length skirt or dress, blazer and nice blouse. Make sure that you’re comfortable in your business casual attire, as you will be standing and walking around the majority of the time. Don’t be scared to throw some color into your business casual attire, as this attention to deal can help set you apart from other contenders. More detailed examples can be found on the Career Center’s website.
Patience and adequate time
Be patient. There will be long lines and big crowds around the popular, most well-known employers. Because of how packed the fair can be, especially around lunchtime, you may have to plan out two separate times that you can stop by the fair so as not to be rushed. Be prepared to talk to a lot of new people in a short amount of time, so practice your career (elevator) pitch, and think about how you want to present your interests and goals. Try to come up with a memorable way to introduce yourself in order to stick out in a large crowd. Most importantly, be confident and be yourself!
The career fair is one of the best opportunities for students, because it gives you a chance to meet with employers one-on-one, which is rare. There’s a lot of competition out there, and with these tips you’ll be ready to compete. Lastly, be sure to bring your Cal ID, as it’s needed to enter! Go Bears!