As an international student, you are encouraged to take part in UConn’s Career Fairs. The career fair is about making connections. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice talking to potential companies about your skills. Students of all majors and industries are encouraged to attend.
What are UConn’s Career Fairs?
During your time at UConn, you may encounter multiple career fairs – UConn offers an All-University Career Fair in the fall and spring, a STEM Career Fair in the fall, a spring Non-Profit & Service Career Fair and an Internship & Co-Op Fair during the spring semester.
UConn’s Career Fairs are events where employers share information about their company and meet potential candidates. Hiring decisions are not made at the career fair. The career fair representative promotes the company, but may not be the Human Resource Representative, nor a representative from the department hiring. Following the career fair, students typically apply for positions on Handshake (UConn’s recruiting platform https://career.uconn.edu/handshake/) or via the company’s website. The Career Fair is an opportunity for students to network with representatives from the companies and provide employers with their résumé.
Career Fair Preparation
Visit UConn’s International Student & Scholars Services (ISSS) department to understand your visa status ahead of the career fair.
Before the career fair students can search Handshake to see which employers sponsor international students and/or take students for OPT and/or CPT. In Handshake you can refine your selection – under categories, a student can filter “accepts OPT/CPT” or “will sponsor or doesn’t require U.S. work visa”. An employer may list “U.S. work authorization is required, but the employer is willing to sponsor candidates”.
Research the Companies Attending the Career Fair
Review the online directory of employers and their job opportunities. Prioritize employers that are in your area of study. Choose up to ten companies to meet. If you feel unsure of your approach or talking points, plan to visit your lower priority companies first so you can practice. Then proceed to your “top priority” companies when you are comfortable. Review the “about us” section of an employer’s website to learn more about the company’s products and services, history and mission. Then prepare focused, specific questions to ask the representative. Such as:
- What do you enjoy most about working at your company?
- What skills, knowledge, and experience does your ideal candidate possess?
- What are the next steps and timeline for hiring someone in this position?
Create an Elevator Pitch
Prepare a professional introduction (referred to as an Elevator Pitch). It is a 20-30 second overview of your qualifications and interests. Practice speaking about your skills for your professional introduction. You can include the following in your introduction: your greeting could begin “good afternoon”, and then you can provide the following: name, graduation year, and degree. Proceed to offer the applicable skills you have for the position, and how you would benefit their company in this role.
Employers may ask if you are an international student. Be prepared to discuss your visa status and indicate how many months you are authorized to work. Some employers do not hire anyone who currently or in the future will need sponsorship, regardless of a student’s availability of OPT/CPT. If an employer mentions this, visit other employers at the fair who may sponsor employees.
Prepare a U.S. Style Résumé
Write a U.S. style résumé which may be different from what you created for countries outside the U.S. Refer to the Center for Career Development’s Résumé and Cover Letter Guide. Also, see Sample UConn International Résumé Click here. To learn more about résumé writing or to make an appointment to have your résumé critiqued, visit career.uconn.edu or stop by UConn’s Center for Career Development.
Career Fair Day
Print approximately 20 copies of your résumé. Carry them in a portfolio or with a professional notebook. Consider printing copies of custom business cards with your contact information. Professional business attire is recommended. When approaching an employer’s booth, if acceptable to you, use a firm handshake and introduce yourself. Utilize your elevator pitch and make eye contact throughout your discussion. Ask the employer for a business card and thank them for their time.
After the Career Fair
If you have contact information for the individuals that you spoke with, follow up with a thank-you email. Remember to refer to the date and location of the fair. Highlight parts of the conversation you had with the representative so they will remember you and include a copy of your résumé. Consider connecting with the representative via LinkedIn.
Center for Career Development and International Student & Scholar Services have tables at the fairs with staff available to assist you with your questions.
Wishing you good luck at the Career Fair!
Desirée is a Career Coach at UConn’s Center for Career Development