Benefits of Attending Career Fairs for Graduate Students

Myths about career fairs exist – “career fairs are only for undergraduate students” or “There is no use for graduate students to participate in those fairs.” While it may be true that many employers at career fairs target undergraduate students, I still find that they are worth visiting.

As one of the supporting student staff at the University’s fall and spring career fairs, I am privileged to have the opportunity to tour the fairs whenever I am not on duty. In each tour, I often walk away with helpful information and insights from the time I spent browsing employers’ pamphlets and speaking to those who might value my skills, knowledge, and experience. Here are the two benefits I consistently gain from attending career fairs:

To know your employer(s) or career field of your interest

After registering for the career fair, you will find a list of employers in Handshake. I begin by reviewing the list and finding those related to my career interests. Then, I think about what I want to learn from the employer beforehand and go to their booth to learn more.  

I once talked with an employer of interest during the fair, sharing that I followed their job postings on LinkedIn but wondered if they posted opportunities on other job platforms. Not only did I receive the answer I needed, but I also obtained the recruiter’s contact information and additional insights, such as the types of positions that would value students with graduate degrees, etc.   

To learn about new job roles

Walking around the fair, I may encounter employers and job roles that I have not heard about but that could be related to my disciplines and/or interest. I approach them, introduce myself, and then ask them questions about the role and skills they look for in a job candidate.

TIPIt never hurts to check further and ask whether they would be interested in hiring graduate students in the future. It is okay if that is not something the employer would consider. With the information I received from the conversation with the employer at the career fair, I already have a good starting point to learn more about the field and a new career option.

Career fairs are often a great channel to meet employers in person and learn about aspects of the company or organization that their website does not reflect. Attending career fairs does not mean you will get a job, but it is an opportunity to talk to employers, gain insights about the job market, and connect with recruiters for potential job conversations.

Visit here to learn about the upcoming Fall Career Fair on September 19 – 20, 2023. For more information about career fairs, go to

By Damiao Zoe Xu
Damiao Zoe Xu Graduate Assistant, Graduate Student and Postdoc Career Programs and Services (She/Her/Hers)