Director’s Cut: Why Freshman Should Attend Career Fairs

Director’s Cut: Why Freshman Should Attend Career Fairs


Why Freshman Should Attend Career Fairs

By: Pat Donahue, Executive Director for Career Development


It’s not just a marketing coincidence that career & internship fairs at IU start the week after Labor Day. Employers are seeking top talent earlier as they compete with each other for qualified students. Between September 4 and November 8, Indiana University will offer 14 different career and internship fairs. A listing of the fairs’ dates, times and locations can be found at:

Freshmen often believe that career fairs are just for seniors, but here are five reasons why freshmen should go to career fairs:

  1. See who is hiring freshmen: Some companies, especially those in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) industries, have started recruiting freshmen for internships or summer jobs after their first year. These industries often struggle to find enough talent to fuel their growth, so recruiting freshmen early can help build a recruiting pipeline for future employees. There are also a few federal agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, that also recruit freshmen for summer internships. Government agencies, especially those involving intelligence analysis, recruit in September so they have time to run security clearances, which can take upwards of eight months.
  2. Collect information for a future resume: Even if employers are not hiring freshmen, talk to the recruiters to investigate what they look for on a resume for their particular organization: what kind of courses, lab experiments, research papers or study abroad; what kind of work/internship experiences, volunteering, or undergraduate research; what kind of student organizations or professional associations; or what kind of computer, creative, or language skills? By learning what employers want now, freshmen can better prepare themselves and gain related experience for future career fairs and job opportunities in the industry they are considering.
  3. Learn what to do and what not to do at a career fair: You should observe your first career fair and attend a “Preparing for a Career Fair” workshop so you know what to expect: how are employers’ tables arranged; where are the employers attending listed online; how to research employers; what type of questions to ask employers; how to give an elevator speech; and how to professionally dress.
  4. Showcase experiences and skills through a professional resume: You will need a professional resume for the career fair. Exploratory and Pre-Major students in University Division can meet with their assigned career coach to have their resume critiqued. Direct admit students or students certified/admitted into Schools should use the career services office of their respective School.
  5. Why didn’t JJ Abrams and Bad Robot Productions attend the career fair? Learn which industries do NOT come to career fairs. Although this sounds like odd advice, it’s important to understand that media, advertising, publishing, music, artistic, museum and entertainment industries rarely attend traditional career fairs. If you are interested in those industries, it is vitally important for you to meet with a career coach to develop a job & internship search strategy for that industry. There are job openings in those industries, but learning how to network to access those positions is a necessity.

Finally, one of the top reasons students attend college is to find a career, so freshmen should make time in their schedule to take advantage of the fact that over 600 organizations will be on campus in the next two months.

Who knows? You may meet your future employer.