My First Career Fair on the Other Side of the Table

I attended the Champlain College Career Fair yesterday. But, not as a job-seeker. As an employer. It was strange to see how the tables have turned, how students pitched themselves, and the overwhelming amount of opportunities in goverment (security, police, fire, army, etc).

Let's get back to the students.

I was recruiting for an online marketing internship. I know Champlain is known for their digital marketing savvy, so I was excited to hear from students to see what they've accomplished.

They all came at once - just after their online marketing class. One after the other handed me their resume. There were stellar students who stood out, but I felt there were others who may not have been as well prepared. With that, I'd like to offer some feedback on how to stand out at your next job fair or interview.

How to Stand Out and Land a Marketing Internship

It's competitive, guys. You've got to stand out. When the recruiting team is faced with a stack of 50 resumes the next morning, who are they going to remember? Here's three tips:

1. Put your website on your resume (Don't have one? Get one. Now.)

If you'd like to land an online marketing internship, you should have an online presence. A personal website is the best example, but a robust LinkedIn profile (are we connected?) or about.me page would work too. They're practically free and easy to build with a templated solution. This also provides a way for the recruiter to "meet you again" rather than stare at your resume.

2. Highlight your experience, follow up with a question

I know it's intimidating to walk up to an employer. We'll engage you, but you've got to contribute to the conversation - in a positive way. When we ask a question about experience, "taking a class in it" isn't the answer that's going to land you an internship. Confidently answer the question by highlighting the experience on your resume. ie. Don't make us read it to parse out the details. After you've answered, ask a question. Employers like to talk, but curious students loaded with questions let us know you're interested and want to learn more.

3. Get in touch after the career fair

Follow up is even more important than pitching yourself. Grab the employer's card and send a quick email the following day about the conversation you had (pro tip: write details about your conversation on the back of the card). Employers talk with hundreds of students in a small amount of time and your resume isn't going to do the trick to jog our memory. Sending an email lets us know you enjoyed your time at our table and you're interested in an internship.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the marketing talent at this fair. So many students had great experiences with local companies and were eager to develop their skills. It's a great feeling to see a student's eyes light up when you talk shop (and they talk shop back).

Do you have any advice for students looking for an internship?