Categories
Campus Jobs Job Search

Five steps to finding a job on campus

A student cashier in a uniform rings up an order at Cascadia Market, OSU's on-campus grocery store, for a fellow student wearing a flannel shirt and backpack. Shelves of grocery items are visible in the background.

Hundreds of students find employment in on-campus jobs like working as cashiers in on-campus markets and restaurants.

An on-campus job is a great way to earn money, and also to gain skills and experience that will boost your resume when you’re ready to launch your career. On-campus jobs are typically flexible and will allow you to schedule your work shifts around your classes.

Student employment ranges from general support jobs that are applicable to students in any major (working in dining centers, office assistants, custodial positions) to jobs that are more specialized and may require certain skill sets (some lab and research positions, web and graphic designers, teaching assistants).

Here’s how to find a campus job:

  1. Check the Oregon State jobs portal. Go to jobs.oregonstate.edu and click on “Student Employment Opportunities.” You can filter by department or search by keyword such as “research” or “marketing.” New jobs are posted frequently and updated throughout the year.
  2. Prepare a resume. Once you have found a job you’re interested in, tailor your resume to highlight any experience or skills that might be relevant to the position. If this is your first job, that’s perfectly fine! Skills and knowledge gained you’ve gained through coursework, group projects, volunteering, sports and clubs are all relevant for student employment, and Oregon State offers numerous ways for students to get help translating those skills onto a resume:
    1. Get resume tips from the OSU Career Guide online.
    2. Get instant feedback from OSU’s online resume help system, Vmock.
    3. Meet one-on-one with a Career Assistant (a peer advisor) or a Career Advisor (a professional staff member who works with students in specific colleges or majors).
    4. Read our tips for adding classroom experience to your resume.
  3. Apply online. The Oregon State jobs portal will prompt you to create an online account to submit your application. You can email the Student Employment team for help if you have any difficulties with the jobs portal.
  4. Practice interviewing. Sitting down in front of a prospective employer and talking about yourself can feel awkward – taking time to practice beforehand helps!
    1. Check out sample interview questions listed on the Career Development Center’s website, and recruit a friend, roommate or family member to do a practice session.
    2. Do an online, interactive practice interview with OSU’s virtual interview prep tool, StandOut.
    3. Schedule an interview prep session with a Career Assistant or Career Advisor.
  5. Follow up. Leaving a positive final impression matters; thank the person who interviews you, both at the end of the interview, and again within 24 hours via email.
Categories
Job Search Networking

A guide to LinkedIn for college students

Five ways to maximize LinkedIn

A person wearing pink pants holds a smartphone on their lap. The screen shows the LinkedIn logo.

Are you making the most of LinkedIn? As of 2023, it’s the 16th-largest website in the world (just two spots below Tiktok!), and it’s also a completely free way to build an online presence that can boost your job or internship search.

Check out these five ways you can maximize LinkedIn to achieve your career goals.

Step one: create a profile.

Think of your profile as a digital version of your resume – it’s a place to show off who you are and the skills you can bring to a new organization. 

Don’t think that because you’re still in college, you don’t have anything to add. Even if you don’t have extensive work experience, or you’re in the middle of changing careers, you can highlight the skills you’ve gained just being a student

Start simple: begin with your name, a profile photo, and what you’re studying at OSU, then build it up from there. Here’s how to get started.

Step two: make connections.

Even if you’re not looking for a job today, you will be someday. Build a network now so that when you need a job, you have a ready-made community you can turn to for introductions or tips on job openings. 

First, search LinkedIn for people you already know: friends, co-workers, past bosses, professors, and advisors. Don’t forget current classmates – they’ll be a valuable network for you in the future.

Then, reach out to people you WANT to know. It’s normal and acceptable to send a connection invite to OSU alumni or people with jobs you find interesting. Try to find a point of common ground, such as a shared interest or a mutual acquaintance, and personalize your request.

  • How to connect with OSU alumni:
    1. Find Oregon State on LinkedIn and click on the alumni tab. Use the search tool to find alumni from your college or major, or who are working at companies you’re interested in, then send them a personalized connection request.
  • Sample connection invitations you can modify:
    1. Hi Xiomara – I am currently a senior studying mechanical engineering at Oregon State and hope to enter the aerospace industry upon graduation. I noticed that you are an OSU graduate with experience in this industry. I would love to connect with you and learn more about your career path. Thanks in advance! – Phuong Quynh
    2. Hi Mikayla – I am currently studying graphic design at Oregon State University and hope to work for a creative agency one day. I loved your recent post about the brand redesign you did for XYZ client – it was fascinating to hear your behind-the-scenes process. I’d love to connect and learn more about how you got started in this field. – Elliott Hashimoto
    3. More sample connection templates

Step three: talk to others.

Once you’ve joined LinkedIn, you can increase your visibility by staying active. Even if you just post an update or comment on others’ posts once a month or so, you’re building a reputation as a positive member of an online community.

  • Join a group. Just like other social platforms, there are subgroups on LinkedIn for all kinds of interests. Enter a keyword related to your major or potential career in the search bar at the top, then click “groups” to filter your search results. Tip: Start by joining the Beaver Careers Group.
  • Share personal updates. You could post about a project you just completed for class or write about a small victory: “Just finished my last final! This term was tough but I loved my horticulture class – I learned so much about plant identification!”
  • Re-post an article you liked and take advantage of LinkedIn’s “repost with your thoughts” button to add a sentence or two about why you found it interesting.
  • Here are 10 more LinkedIn post ideas.

Step four: Advance your skills.

As an OSU student, you have access to a free LinkedIn Learning account. There are more than 18,000 online classes you can take to gain new skills and earn certifications you can post on your profile. Here’s how to log in to OSU’s LinkedIn Learning.

Not sure which courses to take? Do a search for jobs you might be interested in, then look at the qualifications listed. Are you missing anything? LinkedIn Learning might have a class you could take to fill in that gap. It’s a great (and free!) way to build on what you’re learning at OSU. Check out courses related to business, technology, and creative skills.

Step five: Get job alerts.

Your LinkedIn profile is also the key to an enormous job posting network. Instead of browsing through individual listings, use the platform’s automated tools to get notified about jobs that would be a good fit for you. 

  • Make sure that you’ve added skills to your profile (these could be personal skills like communication or teamwork, or skills specific to your field, like Python coding or market research). LinkedIn will use your listed skills to auto-suggest jobs for you every time you log in.
  • To set up job alerts based on your own preferences, click “Jobs” from the LinkedIn top menu bar, then select “preferences” and “job alerts.” 
  • You can also search for a job on LinkedIn, and then filter the results for things like job type (full-time, part-time, internship), job location, and experience level.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn?

Use these videos to make your LinkedIn presence even better.

Rock your LinkedIn profile

Using AI to help create your LinkedIn profile

Categories
Success Stories

Negotiation 101: career tips help an OSU grad land his dream job

Adam Sibley kneels on a riverbank holding a large fish.
Adam Sibley, an OSU graduate student in the College of Forestry, found a career combining his love of the outdoors with his skills in data.

Adam Sibley’s done a lot of things in his career: earned a PhD. Maintained climate stations in remote tropical rainforests. Co-authored peer-reviewed publications.

One thing he’d never done until this year? Negotiated a salary offer.

“Job interviewing and negotiating in particular make me very nervous,” Adam said.

That’s where meeting with his OSU career advisor, Britt Hoskins, came in. She provided tips that eased his doubts and helped him negotiate a competitive job offer with a company doing cutting-edge work in his field.

Step 1: Landing a job offer

Adam earned his PhD in plant ecophysiology from OSU in 2021 and then stayed on as a post-doc research associate with the College of Forestry’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. Through his time at OSU and in previous jobs, he built up a unique skillset that focuses on the technical side of plant science.

“I found out about myself that what I am best at is working with electronics and hardware. Also software, writing code, working with equations. There is a place for people with those skillsets in plant sciences,” he said. “A lot of people in this field don’t really do the scripting stuff that I do.”

His expertise left him well-positioned when a friend of a friend reached out to him on LinkedIn and asked if he might be interested in a job with Chloris Geospatial, a Boston-based start-up that aims to impact the climate crisis by providing companies with cutting-edge climate data analysis.

He was thrilled when he was offered the job – it gave him a chance to continue his work in satellite image analysis and data science, plus it would allow him to move back to the east coast, where he is originally from. But he felt very unsure of how to ask for what he wanted after receiving the job offer.

Step 2: Asking for help

Luckily, he already knew Britt Hoskins, career advisor for the College of Forestry; she’d helped him adapt his academic CV to a résumé for a job in the private sector. He made an appointment with her again to talk through his negotiation questions. 

“Negotiating for a salary feels awkward. It almost made me feel ungrateful,” Adam said. “And I was thinking, ‘How am I going to negotiate with a CEO? I’ve never even talked to one before!’ But she prepared me for the negotiating process and it all worked out exactly how she said it would.”

Two takeaways that were key for Adam:

It’s okay to ask for what you want.

In his case, that was a delayed start date. His original offer included a start date of July 1, but he wanted to remain at OSU until August to wrap up his current work. Britt assured him that this was not an unreasonable request.

“When I told her what I had in mind, she said it was completely okay – they might say no, but I should still ask. She gave me the moral support that was very needed,” he said. 

Salary negotiation is normal, expected and typically follows a standard process.

Adam was worried that salary negotiation might involve a tense back-and-forth conversation in which he’d have to make a case for himself on the spot. Britt walked him through what a typical salary negotiation process looks like, and provided advice on a reasonable counter offer for his career field and level of experience. 

Her salary negotiation tips:

  1. Let the company provide you with a salary number first.
  2. When you receive it, tell them thank you and wait a day before responding.
  3. Follow up with your counter-offer and a short justification.
  4. Let them respond to your counter-offer.

“Without her advice, I would not have known that was the protocol,” Adam said. “She gave me really good advice and helped me find a reasonable target.”

Step 3: Nailing the negotiation

The result? He got the job, with a salary higher than the company’s initial offer, and the freedom to wrap up his work at OSU before starting his new job.

His tips to other students in the job market? Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, and seek out advice when you need it.

“Just talking things through with people is one of the most important things you can do. There are a lot of things about jobs that aren’t rocket science and that you already know – it’s the doubt that is the problem,” he said. “It helps to have someone talk to who will tell you, ‘Yes, you can do that!’”

Want to learn more about salary negotiation?

Categories
Career Fair Ecampus

What to expect at a virtual career fair

laptop on a desk showing a screen with two people having a video conversation

If you think attending a career fair means putting on a suit and handing out paper resumes in a crowded room, think again.

Yes, in-person career fairs are still an option, but in recent years virtual career fairs have become a valuable way for employers to connect with capable candidates they might not encounter otherwise.

If you’re thinking about attending a virtual career fair, here’s what you need to know:

1. Register on Handshake, Oregon State’s virtual career fair platform.

Handshake is a tool widely used by universities as a connection point between college students and the employers who want to hire them. All OSU students already have free access to Handshake’s job boards and career tools. Before you attend a virtual career fair, log in to Handshake and update your profile.

Treat your Handshake profile like LinkedIn or a virtual resume – it’s your way to show off your skills to employers. Make sure that your major, GPA, work authorization status and other information is correct. When you’re done, update your profile privacy settings – OSU student profiles are private by default, but before attending a career fair you should update it so that it is visible to employers.

2. Select your virtual career fair.

In Handshake, navigate to “Events” and then use the filters at the top of the page to select “Category – Career Fair” and “Medium – Virtual.” Click on the fairs you’re interested in, and select “register.”

Screenshot showing a Handshake landing page listing multiple virtual career fairs.

3. Decide which employer sessions to attend.

Employers from all over the globe attend Oregon State virtual fairs, creating either one-on-one or group info sessions for students. Browse through the listings, and register in advance for sessions with companies you are interested in. On the day of the fair, you will only be able to attend the sessions you’ve registered for!

4. Double check your technology.

You’ll need a good internet connection, and a device with speakers, a microphone, and a supported browser (note: Internet Explorer is not supported). See Handshake’s guide to technology for virtual events.

5. Prep for your sessions.

During sessions, employers will spend some time sharing info about their organization, and you’ll also have the chance to talk about yourself via audio, video, or text chat. Plan in advance so you don’t have to think of things to say off the top of your head!

Research employers. Look at their Handshake profile and their company website, and think of a few questions you can ask about what they do.

• Prep an elevator pitch. This is your chance to shine! It’s easy to get tongue-tied when someone says “tell me about yourself,” so use our elevator pitch tips to pre-plan a few sentences talking about who you are and what you’re interested in.

Dress for confidence and comfort. Even at a virtual career fair, you should treat the experience like a professional networking event. Make sure your entire outfit is presentable and you’re wearing clothes that make you feel confident. See our tips for how to dress.

6. Follow up afterward.

Even if you’re not ready to accept a full-time job right now, the connections you make at a virtual career fair can help you build your professional network. After the fair, stay in touch!

When a session ends, a pop up will automatically appear allowing you to message the hosts.

Screenshot showing a Handshake screen titled "continue the conversation" with links to message session hosts.

If you’re not ready to send a message immediately, write down their name. Later on, you can find them on Handshake or LinkedIn and connect with them.

Need help? We’re here.

Have questions about how to register or participate in a virtual career fair? Contact us and ask!

If you need help at any point during a virtual career fair, real humans from the OSU Career Development Center are available for the duration of the fair via the Virtual Help Room. Click on the “Join Virtual Room Help” button in the top right corner of your screen and we’ll be happy to help.

Screenshot showing a Handshake screen with an orange arrow pointing at a button that says "Join Virtual Room Help."

Learn more about virtual career fairs

Handshake’s guide to attending a virtual fair

10 Tips for Attending a Virtual Career Fair

Categories
Internships

Last minute internships: five tips for finding them

So, you were busy all year and you never found time to search for a summer internship. Now it’s June and you’re not sure what to do!

Here are five tips from career advisors on finding an internship, even when it’s late in the hiring season.

A student sits cross-legged with a laptop open on their lap. To the side is a graphic of an online search bar with the words "internships near me"

1. Reach out directly.

Is there a company you’re interested in working for? Check out their website or LinkedIn page. Even if you don’t see an internship posted, contact someone at the company to check! Employers don’t always publicize their internships as heavily as they do full-time jobs. The best way to find out if someone’s hiring is just to ask.

Tip: If you’re not sure what companies to contact, use the Buzzfile Employers by Major tool. Buzzfile is not a job board, but a great site for finding all the employers affiliated with a certain industry in a specific state or city – try searching for employers with keywords related to your major, who are located near your hometown or the city where you plan to spend your summer.

2. Use your network.

Many jobs come not from spotting a posting online, but from a personal connection. You may not think you have a professional network yet, but you have connections through OSU whether you realize it or not! A few networking ideas:

  1. Ask career advisors, professors, friends, parents, co-workers and TAs who is hiring and who they can introduce you to. (Don’t know who your career advisor is? Check the Career Development Center staff list or email us to connect.)
  2. Connect with OSU alumni! Use OSU Connections (OSU’s online professional networking site) or LinkedIn (search for Oregon State University and then click the “alumni” tab) to find alumni who are working at companies you’re interested in.
  3. Even if someone isn’t hiring currently, you always can ask them for an informational interview. An informational interview is a brief call or meeting where you can get to know someone at a company you’re interested in, and learn more about what that industry is like. An informational interview creates a relationship and can lead to more opportunities. Check out the Career Development Center website for more about informational interviews and how to request one.

3. Customize your materials to each position.

Many companies are now using automated screening tools to filter applications. If your resume and cover letter don’t contain the key words the AI is looking for, your materials might not ever get in front of human eyes.

Look carefully at the job description and see what skills they are looking for, then find commonalities in your own experiences that you can list to show how you meet the specific requirements for that job.

Tip: The experiences you list to meet job requirements or keywords don’t have to only come from paid work! Classroom experience and non-paid work like volunteering, clubs, sports, Greek life and more can all help you gain transferable skills that are very relevant, and they’re valid to include when you’re applying! 

4. Use a college-focused job board

Handshake is a job and internship search tool that’s specifically for college students and recent grads. While some jobs posted on Indeed or other job boards might be looking for people with years of experience, employers who post on Handshake are looking for college students. All OSU students have free access to Handshake via their ONID account – log in at oregonstate.joinhandshake.com.

A few tips on Handshake: this is a national job board with thousands of listings, so use filters to see exactly the kinds of jobs you want! You can filter by location, remote work availability, keywords and more. If you see a job you like, even if you don’t apply for it, favorite it – when you favorite certain positions, Handshake will show you more jobs like that next time you log in.

5. Use OSU’s free career services

Stop by the Career Development Center for a drop-in appointment or schedule an appointment in advance to work with an advisor who can help you tailor your materials and give you ideas about the best places to search for jobs. 

You can also access free online tools through the Career Development Center’s website:

  • a free online resume checker: Vmock
  • An online interview prep tool: StandOut
  • A career assessment tool that will help you figure out what would be a good fit for you: Focus2

More internship search tips

  • Want to work on campus? Many OSU departments hire students for the summer or all year long. Even if the department you work for isn’t directly related to your major, it can still provide a great experience for your resume.
Categories
Resumes

Career skills employers really want

(and how to show you have them)

Have you ever heard the term “soft skills” and wondered what that meant? How about “career-readiness competencies”? No matter what you call them, it’s a fact: employers want to hire people who not only have the education to do a specific job, but also have the personal skills like teamwork and communication that make them good all-around employees.

You might also hear them called “transferable skills” – that’s because you can gain these skills in many areas of your life, and then transfer them to any career path. The good news? Your experiences in college are helping you acquire those skills along the way. Here are eight career-readiness skills that employers are looking for, and tips from us on how to show you have them!

(Note: these career readiness competencies were developed by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, an organization for university career services providers and recruiting professionals)

Career & Self-Development

What it is: Proactively developing oneself through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships.

  • Example behaviors: You show an awareness of your own strengths and areas for growth; you seek out opportunities to learn, develop plans for your future career, and maintain relationships with people who can help you professionally.
  • Ways to show this skill: Attending career development workshops and events; completing professional education or training related to your field of study.
  • On your résumé: List industry-affiliated clubs or student chapters of professional organizations; add LinkedIn Learning courses you’ve taken. (Tip: LinkedIn Learning courses are free for OSU students!)

Communication

What is is: Clearly and effectively exchanging information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with others both inside and outside of an organization.

  • Example behaviors: You can communicate clearly and in multiple ways: verbally; via non-verbal cues and body language; and through writing and editing. You can also employ active listening skills, and you can communicate with respect to a diversity of learning styles, varied individual communication abilities, and cultural differences.
  • Ways to show this skill: Completed papers, presentations, and group projects; customer service roles; and by asking clarifying questions.
  • On your résumé: Customer service roles are great examples of communication skills. If you’ve worked in food service, hospitality, retail, or any public-facing role, you’ve built communication skills. You can also add educational experiences, such as examples of major projects you’ve completed that involved gathering input from others, or that required a public presentation.

Critical Thinking

What it is: Identifying and responding to needs, based on an understanding of situational content and logical analysis of relevant information.

  • Example behaviors: You can make decisions and solve problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgement; you gather information from a diverse set of sources to fully understand a problem; you can anticipate needs and prioritize action steps.
  • Ways to show this skill: Share examples of anything that requires a plan with specific steps to solve a problem, such as research papers, projects, and service learning.
  • On your résumé: Any job that requires you to multi-task well in a fast-paced environment shows your critical thinking skills; any classroom project, volunteer project or workplace task in which you were given a problem and asked to come up with a plan to solve it.

Equity & Inclusion

What it is: Demonstrating the awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different cultures. Engaging in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.

  • Example behaviors: You can solicit and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions; you advocate for and actively contribute to inclusive and equitable practices that influence individual and systemic change.
  • Ways to show this skill: Seek out global and cultural exchange experiences that will broaden your perspective; engage in advocacy for inclusion and empowerment for historically marginalized communities.
  • On your résumé: List any study abroad or volunteer experiences that gave you the opportunity to experience diverse cultural perspectives; include any participation in anti-racist or equity-minded organizations or clubs.

Leadership

What it is: Recognizing and capitalizing on personal and team strengths to achieve common goals.

  • Example behaviors: You can inspire, persuade and motivate yourself and others under a shared vision; you use innovative methods to beyond traditional methods, and you serve as a role model by approaching tasks with confidence and a positive attitude.
  • Ways to show this skill: Sign up for lead roles in organizations or class projects; take initiative on additional responsibilities in jobs, volunteer work or internships.
  • On your résumé: List any role in which you served as a team lead (even if it was a sports team, club or class project – it’s the same skill set whether you were paid for it or not). Be ready to share some examples of ways you planned, initiated or managed projects.

Professionalism

What it is: Knowing work environments differ greatly, understanding and demonstrating effective work habits, and acting in the interest of the larger community and workplace.

  • Example behaviors: You act equitably, with integrity and accountability to yourself, others, and the organization; you demonstrate dependability and consistently meet or exceed expectations. You work with a high level of detail and complete work with few (if any) errors.
  • Ways to show this skill: Share your successes in completing projects on time; talk about how you prioritize when juggling competing priorities and tasks.
  • On your résumé: List any jobs that required you to pay attention to small details and prioritize tasks; include awards like “employee of the month” regardless of whether they were received in an office setting, a volunteer job, or a fast food restaurant – it’s all evidence of your professionalism.

Teamwork

What it is: Building and maintaining collaborative relationships to work toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.

  • Example behaviors: You listen carefully to others, taking time to understand and ask questions without interrupting; you can effectively manage conflict, interact with and respect diverse personalities, and meet ambiguity with resilience. You know how to compromise and collaborate.
  • Ways to show this skill: Projects where responsibility is shared, team-oriented jobs, and student organizations.
  • On your résumé: Specifically mention times where your job required you to work with others to accomplish your tasks; list group projects in a classroom setting, team sports or clubs.

Technology

What it is: Understanding and leveraging technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.

  • Example behaviors: You can navigate change and can quickly adapt to new  or unfamiliar technologies; you can identify appropriate technology for tasks and use technology to achieve strategic goals.
  • Ways to show this skill: Share examples of how you’ve learned new technologies, or used technology to improve efficiency in school or work projects.
  • On your résumé: include a list of software or technology that you’re proficient in; be prepared to talk about how you learned/used those skills.

More tips for gaining (and showing off) your transferable skills

“Should I list my boring job on my resume?” – this blog post from Handshake does a deep dive on ways to show off transferable skills no matter what kind of work experience you’ve had.

“How to show off your soft skills to employers – with samples” – more tips from Handshake on adding transferable skills to your resume.

How to use power statements on your resume – Tips and examples from OSU’s career advisors on a how to write a power statement – a two-line, action-oriented statement you can add to your resume to show off your skills from previous experiences.

Categories
Resumes

Enhancing your resume with classroom experience

You worked hard this year. Does your resume show it?

Being a college student is tough. And whether you realize it or not, you’re gathering skills that future employers want just by being a student.

Here’s how to update your resume to show off the transferable skills you learned this year.

Add projects. If you successfully completed a group project, you demonstrated teamwork and communication — two of the eight career-readiness competencies that employers are looking for!

Include research and relevant courses. Look at the job descriptions for positions you’re dreaming of and see what skills or qualifications are listed in the job posting. Then, take a look at classes you’ve taken, research projects you’ve completed, or fieldwork you’ve done, and add them if they relate back to those desired skillsets.

Remember, just because your experience wasn’t gained in a paid employment setting doesn’t mean it’s not highly relevant. Example: a job posting for a marketing position lists designing posters with Adobe Creative Suite software as a required skill. While you’ve never had a paid marketing position before, you learned to use Adobe software in a graphic design class and created posters as part of your required coursework. Go ahead and list that course and the skills you learned on your resume!

Tip: When adding classes, leave out course numbers or academic jargon, and list the course titles instead. (Example: Agricultural Business Management, not AEC 442).

Update your involvement. What do you do when you’re not in class? Clubs, athletics, volunteer work and sorority/fraternity involvement can all go on your resume. Definitely list leadership roles and organizations related to your field of study, but don’t be afraid to list clubs that are just for fun, too. Competing with the dodgeball club or volunteering at the animal shelter can show employers that you’re interesting, engaged, and capable of balancing multiple priorities.

Run a test. Once you’ve completed your updates, run your resume through Vmock. This online platform will give you instant, personalized feedback on your resume or CV.


More resume resources

Use our resume brainstorming worksheet

See our repository of sample resumes for inspiration

Categories
Career Fair

A guide to career fairs

(for when you don’t have it all together)

speech bubble with no words, just three dots, placed on a corkboard background
Sometimes we all need help figuring out what to say.

Sure, we all want to be the person who walks into every room confidently, wearing a stylish outfit and smiling a perfect smile. But what if you’re actually the person who walks into the room, gets nervous, feels awkward, and doesn’t quite know what to say?

Here’s the secret: all of us are the second person sometimes, and if making conversation with new people tends to leave you feeling flustered, try these tips to help you navigate events like a pro – while still being your authentic self.

Plan your day in advance.

You don’t have to visit every table at the fair to consider it a success! Look at the event page online to see a list of employers before you come, and decide which companies you want to talk to (whatever feels like a do-able number to you).

Tip: Once you get to the fair, check in with the event staff and take an info booklet – it will tell you where each company is located in the event space, and you can plan your route to to the tables you’re interested in.

Plan your script, too.

Rehearsing things in your mind will help to avoid that frozen feeling that happens when you open your mouth and don’t know what to say! Practice a 30-second “elevator pitch” about yourself:

  • Start with a quick introduction:
    • Hi, my name is  _____, and I’m currently completing a degree in _____ at Oregon State University. I am interested in (a career/an internship/getting some information) in the _____ field/industry.
  • You can leave it at that, or add a little more detail. Mention an experience (a job, a class project, a club) that you’ve learned from.
    • I have worked  _____ with _____ and discovered that I really enjoy _____. 
  • Then turn the conversion back to the other person! 
    • Could you tell me more about _____ ? 
    • I’m interested to learn more about (Name of Company.)

If you want to keep the conversation rolling:

  • Tell me about what it is like to work for your organization.
  • What does a typical day look like for new team members at your organization?
  • What are some of the biggest projects your organization is working on right now?

Remember, this is your chance to interview the employers, just as much as it is their chance to learn about you!

If you’re ready to exit the conversation:

  • You have given me a lot to think about, thank you!
  • I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me! I will follow up with you if I have any questions.
  • Thank you for the information, have a great day.
  • Thank you, do you have a business card that I can take with me?

Don’t be afraid to eavesdrop.

If you’re walking around the fair but feeling nervous about approaching anyone, listen to what other people are saying. If someone near you has a great line, use it! If an employer is having a conversation with a different student, feel free to stand nearby, smile and nod, and look at the information on their table. You might learn just by listening whether this company is for you! You can also bring a notebook and take a few notes – it will make you look involved, and will help you remember later on if there are jobs you wanted to apply for or companies you want to email.

You can also just browse.

It’s totally fine to approach a career fair as an information-gathering expedition. Companies will have informational brochures, business cards, and small free giveaway items on their tables. Take information and freebies from as many companies as you want – that’s what it’s there for! If anything seems interesting, email the representative later:

  • I gathered some information from your table at the Oregon State University Career Fair this week, and I’d love to know more about the ____ position mentioned.

Recruiters will be delighted to receive after-the-event followup!

After the fair, it’s time for self-care.

You just took the time to invest in your own future. Now congratulate yourself! Whether it’s going out for a celebratory coffee with a friend or relaxing at home to watch your favorite show, make sure to leave time after the fair to do something that will help you decompress after a busy event.


You went to the career fair…now what?

Ready to keep moving on your career journey? Here are three ways to follow up after a career fair.

  1. Apply for jobs you learned about at the fair.
  • Apply via company websites directly.

2. Send a nice, professional email to follow up or request more information.

3. Thank people who took the time to talk to you.

Remember, you can always contact the Career Development Center if you need help strategizing next steps!