November 10, 2022, by egyjr4
My Approach to a Careers Fair
Jason Richards, Aerospace Engineering student blogger
Careers fairs give students the opportunity to come and talk to employers who are keen to recruit UoN students for their internship and graduate opportunities. they are also a great place to start to explore different job roles, companies, and gain some career inspiration. In October, I attended the Engineering, Science and Technology careers fair at the East Midlands Conference Centre.
My plan was to try and see what types of roles would be the best fit for me and gain some insight to help me stand out against other applicants in the hiring process. I prepared by looking into what companies would be attending so I could get a feel of what to expect on the day. I decided to take some notes on the type of roles I am looking for and what skills I had that may benefit these companies. After about an hours’ worth of reflection I had all my notes and ideas committed to memory.
On the day
I had a standard set of questions that could be asked at almost any stand. These included what was the company’s speciality of work, what roles they had on offer, and if they had anything specific that I would be interested in. This is when my reflection came in handy, because I had about three areas I knew I wanted to get into: Manufacturing, Structures, and Avionics. So, if the company was a civil engineering company, I would talk about roles relating to structures, or if it worked on electronics I would talk about avionics. I was not expecting to find my dream role, but through these conversations I was able to find what suited my likes and interests.
From a previous experience at Farnborough air show, I knew that I would not remember everything that I talked about. I also did not want to carry around a notebook ferociously writing everything spoken. Instead, what I did was collect as many brochures and business cards as possible. This way, when it came to applying for the role, whether that was through a cold application or an official one, I would have all the necessary information in my CV and cover letter. A piece of advice I got from the placements team is putting names of people you spoke to in your cover letter. This way your application is more credible, and by collecting the business cards, even if the conversation was brief, I would have a name. Another benefit of collecting all the collectibles from companies when I needed to take notes, usually there was a notebook, pen, or pencil on hand. Considering that carrying all these items can be quite heavy it basically has the benefit of allowing me to pack light when attending these events and make sure I gain the most out of the brief time I have with each individual.
After the event I had an idea of what companies and roles I wanted to go for. I was originally on the edge about applying to Rolls Royce and Leonards, however after talking to some of their members who went on placement, I was convinced that it was an opportunity worth attempting to get. Their were also a couple of SME’s who I would never heard of if I didn’t attend the careers fair. After meeting with a local electronics company, “Ignys”, I learned about how they design and manufacture electronic components for a wide range of industries. When I asked about a placement, I was told that the best approach would be to just email them my cover letter and CV. If I hadn’t gone to the careers fair, I would never have learned about them and that would be an opportunity missed.
To summarise a careers fair, I would say it is a conversation with your future employer. The best part is if the conversation did not go as you expected, it most likely will not hurt your application. These companies speak to hundreds of students and the chances of them remembering you specifically is low. So, there is no harm in trying to start a conversation.
The autumn careers fairs have now finished. Visit the Careers website to see a list of employers who attended and see their current vacancies. The next careers fairs are in the spring term, so keep an eye out for updates.
Find out more about writing CVs and cover letters
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