Career fairs are usually held in schools, at universities, or in public spaces. They usually occur from mid to near the end of academic school years.
The purpose of a career fair is to either promote entry-level job openings, internships, trade school careers, or college programs. They can stretch over a week or take place over a few weekends featuring different aspects.
To make the most of the event, you will have to know what questions to ask at a career fair.
- Approaching A Trade School, Community College Or University Stall
- Which courses do you have to offer?
- What are the entry requirements to apply?
- Will I be accommodated concerning my disability?
- What level of education and accreditation do you offer?
- Do you have statistics on employability after completion of a course?
- Hard times = Low employment
- What makes your institution different from others?
- Approaching A Company Or Business Stall
- Additional Online Career Advice For You
- Final Thoughts
Approaching A Trade School, Community College Or University Stall
These stalls are there to recruit you to apply to them. They will all say the right things. These institutions are looking to recruit the brightest students, but also those with the means to pay them for the education offered. You will have to look past their sales pitch and focus on your own possible goals and interests.
Which courses do you have to offer?
This may seem a tad obvious, but many schools may surprise you with their offering. A college with a reputation for teaching sciences may have an art class or a quality trade school that produces highly-qualified plumbers and electricians, or may have a fantastic course in landscaping.
Read more: What Is Career Coaching?
What are the entry requirements to apply?
These institutions often require a bit more than a GED or a high school diploma. Applications are often padded with achievements in sports, arts, sciences, a hobby, community service, or experience in time worked.
Will I be accommodated concerning my disability?
If you have any disabilities that will require you to have wheelchair access, sign language interpretation, auditory learning materials if you are blind, etc. You will have to find out if the school can provide this or have alternative means of assisting students with disabilities.
Of course, health and safety are the main issues, and if they cannot guarantee that you will be safe on campus, you may need to consider another facility. It’s not so much that the wheelchair can go through all their doorways, but rather that you do not have to wheel yourself up several hills to get to classes, for example.
What level of education and accreditation do you offer?
Once you have an idea of a possible field you would like to pursue, you must know exactly what level of education and accreditation you can expect from the institution. Many offer certificates, diplomas, or degrees. When you aim for a degree, you will also need to verify if graduate studies like a master’s degree or Ph.D. are available.
Of course, the matter of accreditation is important as well. It often so happens that a course via a community college or trade school is limited to the United States only, or even to one or only a few states. If you plan on taking your qualification nationwide or abroad, this could be a hindrance.
Do you have statistics on employability after completion of a course?
Many institutions keep track of their alumni after the completion of their studies. This often secures them with statistics on how many of their alumni have been successful in securing a job within a year after graduation.
You should be looking at 80% or more. The reasons as to why this number is lower could mean a few things; either the institution does not have a good reputation among employers, or the job market for their particular qualifications offered is saturated.
Hard times = Low employment
In some cases, it could be that the country is suffering a turbulent time in the economy with jobs being harder to find, but this could easily be proven once they provide a track record of previous years. Once you know the odds of finding a job once you are done, it will be easier to know whether or not the price of tuition will be worth it.
What makes your institution different from others?
As much as you need to pass their application process, they have to convince you that you will not only learn something but thrive there. They could have a buzzing social experience, extra-curricular activities, or a hidden gem of a drawing card – something that will be the hook, line, and sinker.
Approaching A Company Or Business Stall
You may be fresh out of high school, or you have just finished a trade or college qualification. Asking the right questions can often propel you into unexpected territory, especially if you have prior experience that can count in your favor.
What are your company’s vision and mission?
Simply asking “what does your company do” can lead to a vague answer and sometimes be a bit awkward. It is perfectly acceptable not to know every single company at the fair, but it may be somewhat embarrassing to ask the question only to learn that the company features on Fortune 500’s top 50.
Asking about the vision and mission will not only explain what they do but where they plan to be in the future. This will hopefully indicate if their ambitions will match yours.
What are your company’s core values?
This will indicate if the company values its employees, ethical business practices, the protection of the environment, contributions to the community, and innovation with continuous learning. If any of these are not mentioned, you should present follow-ups to ask about them specifically.
This will ensure that you will have a comfortable work environment and that you will continuously learn, upskill and grow while working for a company that affects positive change in the world. The same questions you would have about disability accommodations at school should apply here as well, as this will indicate whether or not you will have a hard time having your needs met.
What positions do you have available?
It may be the obvious question to ask at a career fair but ask about more than internships and entry-level jobs. People do not tend to stick to the same post forever; they may take a leave of absence, resign, or get promoted.
Companies often have positions left open for some time where outside applications are considered before they promote anyone internally – but they might not advertise far and wide. Once you have identified the position you want to apply for, you can enquire about the requirements concerning qualifications and experience.
What perks are there to working for your company?
Some companies offer extra paid time off, flexible hours, work-from-home opportunities, healthcare benefits, retirement funds, etc. All of these will make a difference in the end, especially in the long run. Paid maternity leave may not be a priority to you at this moment, but a few years on, it might be.
How can I increase my odds at a successful application?
There may be more to it than emailing your resume to the HR department. Some companies prefer a video introduction, a portfolio of your work, or a comprehensive cover letter to explain why you will be the best person for the job.
Other than that, many companies have team-building activities and extra-curricular activities that colleagues bond over and use to unwind. If you happen to be a State Champion Dart player or used to be in a regional winning bowling team… You may just have that extra flair they were looking for!
Additional Online Career Advice For You
Why not do a little extra research of your own by reading the Teens’ Guide to College & Career Planning, and the Who Am I?: An A-Z Career Guide for Teens, or perhaps try Life Skills and Career Coaching for Teens, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens to get you thinking!
We also recommend Careers: The Graphic Guide to Planning Your Future, or how about Career Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You’ll Love to Do, as well as Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type for an alternative approach in 2023.
Or how about trying the insightful “What Color Is Your Parachute” series to help you. For teens and college students, we found the What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens: Discover Yourself, Design Your Future, and Plan for Your Dream Job, and What Color Is Your Parachute? College: Pave Your Path from Major to Meaningful Work.
Now you know what questions to ask at a career fair to help you decide. But remember that it’s not the only chance you will get.
Those who man the stalls are often part-time workers that only read a short training pamphlet before they got onto the tour bus to promote their company or school – they don’t always know everything.
If you are interested enough, ask for a card where you can send follow-up questions and inquiries. You will, in all likelihood, think of something you forgot to ask or want more information on later if they did not give you a satisfactory answer.
Good luck, and hopefully, you will ask all the right questions at your next Career Fair!