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September 16, 2013

Beware the stair at the career fair: Quick tips for students

Sheryl Poirier, former coordinator of the College of Business’ Student Professional Development Program, sent the following tips for attending a college fair from the Culture and Manners Institute at

Poirier, who is the new events and marketing coordinator for the UW-Eau Claire University Recreation & Sport Facilities, wishes all College of Business students a productive and successful time at the 2013 UW-Eau Claire Career Fair.

A young woman told me she was late for a Career Fair at her university.  Weighted down with a backpack, heavy with textbooks, she went running down a long flight of stairs in her pant suit and heels. You know how slippery those marble steps can be, right? Her heel slipped, she stumbled forward. The backpack flipped over her head and the weight of it rolled her like a snowball down the steps, end over end.

No bones were broken, but she did end up with some scrapes and blood stains on the knees of her dress pants. She decided to muscle through. The blood stained knees even became a topic of conversation with many of the recruiters.

If you are off to a Career Fair, or know someone who is, here are some quick tips:

Shake hands coming and going
Reach out and give a firm handshake when you approach a recruiter. Say, "Hello, (First name, last name.)" Shake the recruiter's hand again when you leave.

Ask questions to initiate a conversation, instead of giving a 30-second elevator speech
"I am interested in learning more about the opportunities for Liberal Arts majors at your company."
"What skills are you looking for in your Chemical Engineering interns?" (If you have skills that match, mention them.)
"How long have you been with the company?"
"What do you like best about working for this company?"
Or any questions that came up in your research of the companies. (You did research some of the companies, didn't you?)

Close with an expression of enthusiasm
"Thank you for your time. I am very interested in joining your company."
"I appreciate your time. If it is alright with you, I will follow up by phone next week."

Follow up
Get a business card or name from recruiter. Send an email and a typed-written thank you note with another copy of your resume.

Dress appropriately
Don't wear jeans and a sweatshirt to the Career Fair. Dress like you would for an interview.

Leave your support staff at home
Don't bring a date, a friend or your mother to the Career Fair. A recruiter might hire your mother instead of you.

Be on time and most your step.

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.