The essential guide to careers fairs

By Mary-Peyton Amburn – U.S. University Recruitment Program Manager and Branding Lead,Careers Fair

Here in the U.S. the leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange and American football teams are working hard on the fields. It’s Fall university recruitment season! IBMers are dispersed across the country on university campuses to meet the perfect candidates to help IBM on it’s continuing journey of transformation.

Even though there are many types of recruitment activities on campus, most students start their job search by taking part in Career Fairs. Career Fairs are designed for students to enhance their job search efficiency by allowing them to meet with multiple employers within the same event. Career Fairs also benefit employers because we can reach a large quantity of potential candidates with a variety of skill sets. It’s a win-win for all!

Career Fairs can be overwhelming to many, so here is some insight from our experts!

Come Prepared

Because IBM is divided into multiple business units, we likely will not have a representative from each unit at a career fair. By looking at your school’s career service website, you will get a better understanding of what job opportunities the hiring managers in attendance are looking to fill. If you do not see your area of interest on the school site, please do not let that deter you! You can ask more general questions about the company and express your area of interest. The IBMer that you speak with can help direct you!

“Come prepared.  First, make your target list of companies to talk to at the fair.  Then, check your university’s career services site or the companies’ career sites to see what job opportunities they have posted that are of interest to you.  When a student walks up and shows they have done their homework, it demonstrates motivation and genuine interest in the company that helps set you apart.” Maureen Pulscher University Recruiting Program Manager (U.S)

“I suggest students and grads take a look at the positions we’re hiring for on our website. If you ask generic questions, it might not be the best use of your time. If you’re already familiar with the roles and you know what were looking for, that will really help you stand out.”

– Bridget King University Recruitment Relations Partner (Canada)

Careers Fair 2Presentation is Key

Your resume will give companies an overview of your of your skills but a piece of paper simply cannot make that one-on-one connection. Approach the IBM booth with confidence and enthusiasm. By refining your conversation skills, you will demonstrate the soft skills required to thrive in a work environment.


“It’s important to remember that emotional intelligence is often just as important as regular intelligence. You could be a straight A student but if you are unable to articulate your achievements and goals, you will have a hard time convincing organizations to take a chance on you. Spend time refining your conversational skills and practice with your friends and family so by the time the career fair rolls around you are more than prepared!”

-Ryan Mancinelli U.S Intern & Co-Op Program Manager

Be Efficient

While we love engaging in conversation at career fairs, it is important that we give everyone in line a chance for equal time. When you approach the IBM booth with a specific job in mind, a clear and concise overview of your strengths, and planned questions you demonstrate the ability to work efficiently.

If you have a specific company or two in mind, get there early, and get there first. Prepare for the career fair as you would for an interview. Make sure to rehearse your elevator pitch to include a brief and compelling overview of your accomplishments and strengths” – Eletta Kershaw – University Recruitment Program Manager & Team Lead

“Do a little bit of research about the companies that are going to be there and come prepared with your elevator pitch about how you think you can add value to those organizations and what makes you different” – Raji Ganesan North America Recruiting Account Manager

It is never too early

Do not be afraid to ask employers how you can prepare yourself early in your college career to be a top candidate in the future. Have employers look at your resume and encourage a candid review of how you can improve. By recognizing your weaknesses early, you will set yourself up for many opportunities in the future.

“Go to the Career Fairs early in your college career, make use of Career Service Resume reviews, and ultimately, in the ‘pile of resumes’, make yours stand out by finding ways to differentiate yourself through leadership and work experiences.” – Anthony Lewitt Program Director, Lead Professional Development Manager

Overall, Career Fairs are a great way to make connections with recruiters and gain insight into the company’s available opportunities. While it is important to be prepared, we also want you to know that even if you aren’t interview ready, we ask that you stop by our booth to learn more about IBM!


Connect with us! on Twitter @IBMCampusUSA and Facebook @IBMCollegeCareersNorthAmerica

To keep up to date with our global opportunities, tips and news, check out our global Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts.

What will you make with IBM? ibm.com/jobs

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