On Feb. 13 and 14, University of Southern Mississippi Career Services hosted workshops to prepare students for the Career Fair, which will be held Feb. 21 in the Thad Cochran Center.
About 90 companies and professional schools will attend to discuss internships, career opportunities and to provide students with feedback about their skills. The Career Fair will also give the chance for students graduating within the next few years to make connections with potential employers.
These companies represent both national, regional and state opportunities with high starting salaries. IBM, Huntington Ingalls, Cintas, PepsiCo, Enterprise, Sherwin Williams and C Spire are attending along with numerous healthcare organizations, social services agencies and technology companies.
The purpose of the interactive career fair workshops is to assist students in meeting and conducting research on organizations at the event for future job prospects. During the workshops, students learned how to develop a 60-second professional introduction as well as being taught strategies to professionally approach the employer’s booth and how to follow up after the event.
Specifically, Director of Career Services Rusty Anderson said students should prepare questions to ask and treat each conversation as a mini interview and an important connection to the company. He said students should tailor their resumes to the employers that will attend and also doing your research on all of the companies that you are interested in.
“To go a step further, you can even make business cards to distribute along with your resume,” Anderson said.
During the first two workshops, students learned how to create an elevator pitch and discussed different strategies of how to connect with companies. Anderson said students should go to the companies that potential employees are most interested in last in order to be more prepared for meeting companies of higher interest. He recommended identifying 5 – 6 companies and introducing yourself with your skills and goals.
“Having a game plan as you enter the Career Fair is highly encouraged, especially because it will be very busy,” Anderson said.
To help with the potentially overwhelming atmosphere, the Career Services Department designed a free app to help navigate the booths which you can download from USM’s website.
The career workshops discussed many aspects of professionalism, including dress. Business casual is appropriate for the Career Fair. Many descriptions of business casual can be found just by doing a quick Internet search.
Anderson discussed the attitude that a student should have at the Career Fair. He suggested that you show confidence in both body language and in how you approach potential employers but at the same time, avoid seeming arrogant. Showing a genuine interest in both the company and more specifically, the job that you are interested in, helps to make a more influential impact on the company, according to Anderson’s experience. He also mentioned basic advice such as making sure to stay off of your cell phone and be aware of your body language.
“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” Anderson said while advising students to get contact information from each representative to follow up with them after the first meeting. He discussed following up by sending them an email or a handwritten letter thanking them for the opportunity to speak with them.
There will also be a career workshop on the day before the Career Fair to go over everything learned for one last time. The Career Fair is set for Feb. 21 in the Thad Cochran Center from noon to 4 p.m.