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3 Things Students Should Do Before an Intern Fair

Written by Christopher Alghini (Senior Cloud Strategist) | April 25, 2013

So you’re sitting in that dull accounting class and wondering: "Is there a better way to earn class credit while gaining some real-world experience (and getting me out of this classroom?)"

You can’t always rely on your school to set you up, matchmaker style, with a great company. In my experience, being proactive can pay off.  

I can’t make any promises about that accounting class, but as a former marketing intern for my university’s bookstore I do have some tips that will make the process a whole lot easier. They might also make you pretty darn attractive to future employers:

1. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

No one is expecting you to show up in a three-piece suit.  “But the place I’m interning for is a cool, casual start-up!” you protest. “They’ll totally vibe with my Birkenstocks and Phish concert tee!”

Right, and maybe they will. But let them tell you that after you have accepted the internship. I recommend taking a shower that day, making sure all undergarments are tucked away, and at least going with business casual. You want to project a put-together and organized look even if you did only come to the internship fair to try and score some SXSW badges.  

I’d suggest some slacks or khakis with a polo or button down shirt (for both girls and guys). Ladies, watch the hemline and cleavage situation. You want the focus to be on your sparkling personality and résumé. That said, definitely let your personal style shine through—it could be the thing that makes you stand out in the mind of the recruiter. Choose something that makes you feel like a million bucks and gives you confidence.

2. Print out more résumés than you think you need.

If you are in college and don’t yet have a résumé yet, you better hop on it! Even if the only place you’ve worked has been as a cashier at HEB. Maybe you haven’t worked at all—that’s okay!

Employers want to see where your skills and interests lie. Put down any volunteer work you’ve done, organizations you have been a member of, or any special skills or training you may have received. Are you bilingual? That could be a huge plus and make you a front-running candidate.  

Remember, the recruiter can’t read your mind. If you want them to know about it, you had better spell it out on that résumé. The next step is to print a résumé for every employer attending the internship fair/job fair, plus about ten. You honestly never know!  Don’t show up unprepared. Employers are baffled when students show up to job fair events empty-handed. They need something to remember you by, and how are they to contact you without a phone number or email address?  

I spoke to a recruiter while attending the Campus2Careers Internship fair in San Marcos who couldn’t believe the number of students who don’t bother to bring a résumé . Don’t look like an amateur. If you are serious about landing a great internship, a résumé is a given.

3. Break out of the sheep mentality.

Picture it: An internship fair has just been kicked off by the mayor, who says some encouraging words and leaves students with a rousing “Get out there and network!” The herd stands frozen and employers stand idly behind their tables.

It can be awkward to be that first mover who approaches a recruiter but I think it gives you a clear and distinct advantage. They are going to remember you, and think better of you for it. You won’t have to wait in line to speak with them (which happens about an hour into the fair). You’ll be the first face they associate with and you’ll have their clear and undivided attention.

I promise, it won’t be as excruciating as you think. They WANT to talk to you, that’s why they showed up, remember?  Don’t feel as if you need a rehearsed script or elevator sales pitch. This is a more relaxed atmosphere and employers want to see the social side of you. I would recommend introducing yourself with a smile, handing them a résumé, and highlighting any of your past experiences that may be a good fit for the type of internship they are offering.  I think you might be surprised with how natural it seems once you have approached a few recruiters.

Now that you know the basics of landing an awesome internship you can march into any internship or job fair feeling confident and networking like boss.  Which internships or companies would be your dream gig?  

Incidentally, Coolhead Tech is looking for inbound marketing interns to join the team, learn a ton, and produce results. It's a great opportunity to say that you've organized a marketing campaign that drove thousands of visitors, leads and customers! Contact us today for information.