Career Confessions from GenZ is a weekly series authored by Cameron Sackett, a Sophomore at the Univesity of Michigan majoring in Communications and Advertising. Make sure you connect with him on LinkedIn:
Honestly, there is nothing more terrifying to me than a career fair! It seems almost like speed dating, where you have to make a lasting impression and a meaningful connection with someone in a matter of minutes. While I’m not sold on this option as a way to find potential jobs/internships, it is a great resource for most college students to find jobs.
Disclaimer: I have never been to a career fair, so my opinion is based on hypothetical situations. When I attend one, there are certain things that will definitely catch my eye.
1.SWAG: I honestly don’t care what it is, but I’m a “broke” college student and I love free things. Whether it be a notebook, lanyard, or even a dang pen, swag draws me in immediately. At the University of Michigan’s club and activities fair my friends and I will walk around for hours with the sole purpose of collecting as many free things as possible. My suggestion is to bring snacks to give away, slap a company logo sticker on the package and your set!. While this might not be as long-lasting as maybe a lanyard, I am way more likely to actually use it and therefore, think more fondly of your company!
2.PEOPLE: This is completely opinion based, but I personally feel more comfortable talking to women than men. Personally, I think that talking with a male fosters a more competitive atmosphere, thus making me nervous and less likely to approach a table. Now when it comes to women, especially in their 30s and 40s, I feel right at home. This is probably because my Mom is my best friend, but I would feel more comfortable approaching a table with a middle-aged woman at the front.
3.BRANDS: Obviously recognizable brands are definitely going to have a leg up on the competition. I’m going to be way more compelled approaching the Google table rather than a company I’ve never heard of. This is when you have to play the game by creating a cool/modern display (maybe with some technology) and bringing some sweet swag (free T-Shirts are golden for getting college students – especially if you incorporate the actual school logo). I believe the most important goal for less recognizable companies at a career fair is to be memorable and remembering the audience you’re catering to is vital to achieving this.
As I get closer to the impending doom of adulthood, I will probably have more experience with career fairs, so look out for part 2 in about a year! My biggest piece of advice is to remember the audience you’re working with: insecure, desperate, tired college students that want a job as badly as you want to fill your positions! And if you need anyone to try out some swag, I think I could help you with that 😉
HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a GenZ? Ask us in the comments and I’ll have Cameron respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for Cameron? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Great blog and insights. As a Talent Acquisition Leader at Huron Consulting Group, I found you comments very useful and am looking forward to reading more. Thank you!
It’s a relief to hear that this “middle aged” woman might be a welcome sight – we tend to send newer staff to fairs, with the assumption that college students will relate more to their newly working peers. Thanks for making me feel still relevant 🙂
I also just want to comment that I am thoroughly enjoying your posts. I’ve been a fan of your Dad for awhile so probably a bit biased in your favor given you’re his son. That said, I think you have a real gift for writing and encourage you to keep at it. You come across as genuine, relatable, give practical tips, just a real joy to read your stuff. Keep up the great work – you’ll go far!
I can’t wait for you to bring this up at the next McKesson campus strategy session! “Okay, everyone, only Moms are going to campus this year! With warm chocolate chip cookies and hugs! And maybe some kittens and puppies!” Now, that would be a winning campus career fair strategy!
I LOVE the comment about putting a sticker on a snack. It’s temporary, but can definitely make a difference.