Career experts prepare students for Winter Careerfest

GVSU senior Ellen Rhein and alumni Sarah Bontinen practice their introductions at the Careerfest Prep Session at the Kirkhof Center yesterday.

Rane Martin

GVSU senior Ellen Rhein and alumni Sarah Bontinen practice their introductions at the Careerfest Prep Session at the Kirkhof Center yesterday.

Susie Skowronek

The Winter Careerfest and Health Career Day will take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday in the DeVos Place Convention Center, located at 303 Monroe Ave. NW.

The fair has more than 140 employers already registered, including 40 health care employers, and each employer usually brings at least two representatives. Career Services expects about 1,200 students to attend.

“This is really biggest event we have throughout the year. It allows students to connect with many, many employers,” said assistant director of Career Services Megan Riksen. “There are a lot of great local companies as well as companies throughout Michigan.”

She added this event is not just for health careers students, it is for students of all majors.

Rachel Becklin, assistant director of Career Services and internship specialist, told students at the Feb. 16 prep day what to wear, what to bring and how to network with employers.

Becklin said the career fair is a networking event with an emphasis on recruitment. Networking she defined as “purposeful chit-chat,” and said around 80 percent of jobs are filled through networking. Students should prepare to both ask and answer questions.

A mini-interview with an employer should proceed with a handshake and self-introduction. Students should give their names, majors, years, interests and career goals. They should tell employers about their interest in the organization and engage in conversation.

A map will lay out the location of the employers at the fair, and Becklin suggests students plan their attack ahead of time.

“If you have the option to get there at the beginning of the event, try and do that,” Becklin said. “That’s when you’re going to get employers at their freshest. That’s when they’re going to be the most anxious to talk with people and meet with people.”

Becklin suggests students make three lists of employers: A-list or I-have-to-see, B-list or I’d-really-like-to-see, and C-list or it’d-be-cool-if-I-could-see.

She said students should start with the B-list employers until they are comfortable with marketing themselves.

To prepare for the fair, students should research on the employers ahead of time. Refer to the information box for a list of some information to know.

After the conversation, which can last two or three minutes, the student should collect information from the employer, a name or business card, to follow up after the business fair.

However, Becklin said to avoid “trick or treating” at the tables.

“Each table is going to have a lot of stuff on it,” she said. “Some of the stuff is pretty cool. They may have water bottles, they may have some candy and all sorts of stuff on their table. But you’re there to talk with them about internship and job opportunities not necessarily to take the goodies off the tables.”

Becklin said students should bring copies of their resume to leave with employers and a pen and paper to take notes.

“The best thing about a career fair is that you’re getting your face in front of employers,” Becklin said. “Just remember that now you have a face to go along with that application you submit online, and they might still be able to take your resume.”

Senior Julie Maag, a health professions major, wants to find an internship through the career fair to get more experience in a specific area and narrow her range of options for professional employment.

“My major is so I can go into Occupational Therapy and get my Master’s, and I want an internship following them around and making sure that’s exactly what I want to do because Master’s is a big investment,” Maag said.

Although students might only have time to drop by the fair between classes, they should still make an effort to dress to impress, Becklin said.

“Even if you’re there real quick between classes – maybe you don’t have a suit – I still wouldn’t recommend wearing jeans or a sweatshirt – things like that,” Becklin said.

She suggests students wear dark colors, and if they want to stand out, use shirt or a tie to add a dash of color.

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