Business Horizons is a biannual career fair organized by the Pamplin College of Business and brings dozens of prominent companies and recruiters to Virginia Tech. This semester, Business Horizons will be held on Wednesday, January 25 from 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM in Squires Old Dominion Ballroom. Jennifer Carty, Associate Director of Career Services and Employer Relations, described the fair as “one of the largest opportunities for students to interact with employers on campus.” Whether you are seeking a summer internship or a full time position post-grad, this guide will help you prepare and navigate the event.
Have a Game Plan
Knowing what to expect and planning ahead of time will help you make the most of Business Horizons. Research the attending businesses and make a target list of your top choices of companies. Check out some company preview videos and other virtual resources here and jot down a few thoughtful questions you may want to ask their representatives. Having a strategic approach to the fair will prevent you from feeling rushed or overwhelmed at the event.
Polish Your Resume
Watch this Pamplin Resume Workshop video and use the guidelines to make sure your resume is recruiter ready. Your resume is a two dimensional representation of your personal brand so you want to make sure it is perfect when going into Business Horizons. You can have your resume reviewed at the Writing Center or the Career and Professional Development Center for additional help.
Here are some quick tips to improve your resume from the Pamplin Resume Workshop video:
Go for Quality
Your fine-tuned resume should be printed on high quality resume paper and stored in a sleek padfolio. There may be some initial sticker stock for these materials, but view it as a worthy investment in your future. By skipping the flimsy resumes and cheap paper folders you can show recruiters that you are serious and prepared.
Use your Resources
Now that you have your game plan and materials, refer to the Virginia Tech Career and Professional Development website for any lingering career questions or concerns. The website is a valuable resource for career development and includes information and advice for every step in the job search process. You can also reach out to the career advisor from your college and schedule an appointment. The Office of Career and Professional Development is trained to help students and will offer valuable feedback and suggestions to enhance your job search.
Dress the Part
Complete your professional presentation with a sharp outfit. Students should dress at the minimum in business casual and at most in a full suit. The goal is to look and feel both confident and comfortable- meaning sensible shoes, steamed garments, and professional colors. Just add a warm smile and you will look appropriate and approachable.
In order to be successful at Business Horizons, you must be comfortable talking about yourself. Practice a 30 second elevator pitch to introduce yourself to recruiters followed by a brief overview of your undergraduate career and work experience. Be aware of your best qualities and achievements and be prepared to speak about them in conversation.
Once you arrive at the fair, you need to register and sign in for the fair outside of Squires Ballroom on the second floor. Remember, backpacks are not allowed in the event and must be checked at the registration desk.
Take a Test Run
After checking in, take a deep breath and venture to small, quiet booth for a practice round. Try out your handshake, introduction, elevator pitch, general inquiries, and specific company questions. Gauge your interaction with the recruiter and see if there are any points you can improve on. Now that you’re warmed up, tackle one of the businesses on your target list.
While you can only make a first impression once, it’s hard to go wrong with a firm handshake and genuine smile. Now that you have practiced once or twice, try to connect with a recruiter from your target list and show your personality to distinguish yourself from other students. Always thank the recruiter and conclude with a handshake.
Listen and Take Notes
During your conversation with a recruiter, make eye contact, listen carefully, and take a few notes. The recruiter will see that you are attentive and your notes will be useful if you have a follow up conversation or interview.
The Follow Up
If you are contacted by a potential employer after Business Horizons, you can continue to use the Career and Professional Development Center for additional preparation and assistance. They can guide you through a range of professional methods of communication, including emails, phone calls, and interviews. Consider sending a note to your interviewer thanking them for their time- an etiquette practice that never goes out of style. Keep in mind that there will be another opportunity to connect with employers at the Fall 2017 Business Horizons.
You will leave Business Horizons having connected with recruiters and learned valuable information about a variety of companies, which is a beneficial experience in itself. Regardless of your results from the day, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Use what you learn from the event to gain insight that will better prepare you for the next steps in your career search.
Best of luck and happy job searching!
Header Image Source: Olu Eletu on Unsplash