A main goal of attending graduate school is finding an internship, a new job, or advancing your career. You go to class, participate in group projects, study, work on your resume, and apply to job postings online. Next comes networking and conducting informational interviews: are you doing that? Are you still with me?
There are several ways to build your network and connect with people of interest, namely employers, and attending employer information sessions is one of the easiest. Information sessions are right under your nose, here, on campus, in a classroom that you might have just been sitting in for class! Employers come to campus wanting to meet YOU! However, they also come with a set of expectations for candidates they hope to recruit into their companies.
Information sessions are professional recruiting events. This is often your first chance to make an impression on the organization and get your foot in the door with decision makers. Some companies send recruiters, some send hiring managers, some send both, so be prepared to connect with anyone and everyone when you attend an information session. I know you’re busy and tired and just got out of class, but put on your game face, and your business attire, before you walk into the room. You’re in business school, and employers expect to meet professional business candidates when they come to campus. Sure, you can show up in sweatpants, but that will be the perfect way to show the employer you don’t care.
Employers come to share information about their company, but it’s also good for you to show up knowing a little something about them. Do your research on the organization, their competitors, and current jobs they have posted on their website. It would be best to impress them with an intelligent question, rather than asking what their company does or what industry they are in.
Here are some tips to make the most of your time at an employer information session:
- Dress professionally
- Do your research ahead of time.
- Prepare questions for the employer—smart questions!
- Make a point to talk to the representative afterwards, and bring a resume with you that you have tailored for that company.
- Show interest in what they have to say—NO phones, NO laptops, not even if you “use them to take notes.” Use pen and paper this time!
- Ask if there is someone you can follow up with on your application; it might be the Career Development Office or it might be a company representative.
- Remember the names of the representatives that come to campus; it might be helpful to know if you get called in for an interview.
- Thank them for visiting campus.
You want to make this hour of your time count. I know there are plenty of other things you could be doing during this time, studying, taking a nap, writing a paper, but none of those will help you expand your network towards your ultimate goal of finding a job. And not just finding a job but finding the right job, with an employer that is a good fit for you, your interests, values and goals. If you go in prepared, you’ll get more out of the session, be able to make a better judgment on whether that employer is a good fit for you, and make a better first impression on the presenter. You never get a second chance to make a first impression!