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Suit Yourself

Doubting Your Career Direction? Let Doubt Motivate You to Clarify Your Goals

Written by Benjamin Thomas, Career Center Graduate Assistant, Master of Science, Industrial/Organizational Psychology.BenjaminThomas

Doubt is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one. –Voltaire

Since kindergarten, education for most of us has been a very structured process. Even through high school, where we could pick our courses, electives, and activities, it was always clear what was waiting on the horizon for the next year. Now you’ve made it to college, and you’re finally the independent, grown-up student who makes all of his/her own decisions.

Allow that one to sink in…

While the university has a wide range of criteria and requirements for a degree or other certification, how you choose to meet these goals is up to you. Some students complete a four-year degree in three years, while others change majors and concentrations multiple times. There are so many options for us, the grown-up students, that it may seem hard to steer our efforts in the right direction. When someone else was telling you what to do for your education, maybe you experienced a sensation of restriction and weight. But now, that direction seems reminiscent of a heavy winter blanket: warm, secure, consistent.

I experienced all of these sentiments as an undergraduate, and I am catching a second dose of them as a graduate student. Good news: they’re normal. As hard as it can be to decide, I remind myself that the burden of choice means I can do anything. This encouraging thought of potential provides hope in some of those moments of doubt.

So, how do you sort it out? How do you behave like the independent, grown-up student who makes all of his/her own decisions?

You’re in college, right? What do college students do best? (Not that.)

They gather and synthesize information.

If you want to know what you should do, might it help to find out what you could do?

Talk to People Who Can Give You Career Information

A great place to start gathering information is with a trusted professor, a parent, a coworker or other individuals who could share with you their own experiences or synthesize information about your questions and doubts. These people like talking about themselves (as do most people), and probably like helping humble, young learners find out more about what they can do. These conversations can be informal, or more structured, like an informational interview.

Next, you could come speak to someone in the Career Center at MSU. Believe it or not, we do more than help you write your résumé. Our Career Resources Specialists are specifically trained for questions and choices like the ones you will have to make throughout college.

  • If you came to college without a specific career or major in mind, we can help you generate and understand your choices.
  • If you know you’d love to work in a certain industry or job, but don’t know how to get from here to there, we will help you create a road map for the future.
  • If you aren’t sure about your major, we can talk with you about it and maybe clear things up.

This information, like the opinions and advice of the people you know in your life, is not a prescription. We don’t tell you what to do; we just provide you with information that can guide your decisions. While some people may be certain of what they want to do, our world does not lend itself to certainties. Probabilities, the basis of most of our decisions and process, carry some doubt.

Try to make the best choices based on the information you have, but remember that it’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly like you pictured them. There are many examples of extremely successful people who faced a series of failures and redirections in their path to greatness. Sometimes learning and understanding what you don’t want to do is as helpful as discovering what you do enjoy. Progress in any direction can often, in retrospect, be understood as progress in the ultimate direction.

Keep Things in Perspective

Regardless of your goals and decisions, keep things in perspective as you commit your efforts to the task at hand. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but “the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” These clichés both support the idea of perspective: short-term goals must be completed to reach long-term goals. When you feel overwhelmed by the length of your degree program, commit to completing the first class, focusing on the steps needed to succeed there. As the homework of a course feels repetitive, visualize those moments you’ll celebrate when you’ve completed your degree: graduation, finding a career, building your life after graduation. Sometimes a change in perspective can be a powerful way to alleviate any doubt in your choices.

While no one can remove all doubt from their world, your time here at MSU does not have to be plagued by uncertainty. It is normal to have doubts. These uncertainties can motivate you to do what is necessary to understand yourself and your goals. The University offers many resources for you to take advantage of as you gain clarity. Gather information, speak to professionals like those in the Career Center, accept the possibility of redirection and failure, and try to keep things in perspective.

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Internship Is a “Game-Changer”

Guest written by Marisa Farris, Marketing Major with emphasis in Advertising and Promotions, Minor in Communications, Graduating May 2015

Public Relations and Media Food Practice Intern at Noble Communications in Springfield, MOProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Your college undergrad is the perfect time for you to develop yourself into a marketable individual. Be a sponge and absorb as much information as possible so that you can be an asset to your future employer. We all have one thing in common—we want a job when we graduate. Yet, those who take extra steps before graduation are the ones who come out on top. Being proactive in your job search is imperative to finding a job when you graduate.

A job search doesn’t just entail applying for jobs; it requires much more thought and strategy. Utilize your surroundings and make connections. It is imperative to develop relationships with your teachers and network with industry professionals through organizations offered on campus. Getting involved is the best thing I could do for myself. Ultimately, this is how I landed my internship at Noble Communications.

I was seeking an internship to ensure I had agency experience on my résumé. However, my experience at Noble has gone much further than my résumé or LinkedIn page. Noble has been game-changing to my career. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the top Fortune 500 Foodservice companies, such as Smucker’s, Ventura, and MARS. I offer executive support with public relation work, e.g., press releases, event planning, etc., and also media buying, e.g., purchasing ad placements in foodservice magazines, etc. Noble has given me the opportunity to “test-run” my career choice. That has been the greatest thing that I will be able to walk away with—real world experience.

I have noticed, especially with my Noble interview, that recruiters see passion first. I am inspired everyday by the people I work with and the work they create. They are passionate about what they do and genuinely love their jobs. Every day is a new adventure. My internship has only helped in validating my love and desire for the advertising industry. I will be continuing my internship through the school year and hope to stay until I graduate in May 2015.

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If the Shoe Fits . . . Wear It! Finding the Right Job Begins with You.

Written by Todd Euglow, Career Resources Specialist

In today’s economy it’s apparent that navigating the job market has become increasingly more difficult. This is due to a variety of reasons; however, a mistake that many college students make when entering the work force is jumping at the very first job opportunity that is offered to them or simply applying for jobs without having much understanding of the company’s culture, values, or mission. Everyone strives to find that “perfect job,” but the reality is that it may not exist, at least not right away. How do you balance the decision between taking that very first offer or applying to every job with finding the right fit? Too often, individuals do not take the time to educate themselves on the organizations to which they are applying well enough to make an informed decision on whether or not the company is right for them. This mistake could lead you to accept a position in which you will be extremely unhappy, which is never a good way to begin your career!

When you begin applying for positions and accepting interviews, keep this in mind: you are interviewing your potential employer just as much as they are interviewing you. So, how do you determine whether or not an organization is the right fit for you? While conducting your job search, keep these questions in mind:

  • Could I see myself working here long term, more than just one or two years?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • What types of benefits will I receive? It’s not always about the salary. Does the organization value professional development and promote opportunities for new employees to grow?
  • Could I see myself working with my potential coworkers for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?
  • Do the organization’s values align with my own?

You’re probably thinking, “I really just want to get paid!” Although it is often easier just to take the first offer you receive, studies have shown that when employees are satisfied with their work environment, they demonstrate increased levels of productivity and experience more success in the work place. You should begin to think about the long-term gain rather than the short-term benefits. Below are some tips and strategies to help you determine if a job or organization is a good fit for you:

  • Do your research beyond what is listed on the company website. Although a website can tell you a lot about the organization, you need to dive deeper. Look at external sites that provide reviews of the company. Websites such as www.glassdoor.com provide reviews by current and past employees of many companies domestically and internationally. You have to remember that you can’t consider every review to be fact. For example, a disgruntled employee may have had some choice words to say about the previous employer from which he or she was just fired for stealing office supplies. You should look for themes and consistencies among the reviews.
  • Are there articles about the company that have been published by a reputable source from which you can draw some information? Is the company launching a new humanitarian effort that aligns with your values?
  • Do you know anyone who currently works or previously worked for the company who can provide you with some insight?
  • Do you truly know yourself? Have you considered taking personality assessments such as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator to help you better understand your values and personality traits? This service is available at the Missouri State University Career Center.
  • If you already have an interview scheduled, do some research while you’re there. Survey the work environment (Is it messy or organized?), strike up a conversation with the receptionist, monitor how the employees interact with each other, ask questions of your interviewers that help you better understand them and what they value. Obviously I don’t mean asking personal questions, but make them relevant to the company and how it operates; for example a question that you may ask is “Could you describe your company’s management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?”

The job search process can be very stressful. Proper planning and research will help you to not only better understand your goals for your first position, but also provide you with a clearer concept of what you value and how you can contribute to a company. This will ultimately come through to a potential employer and assist you in making the right choice in your search.

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Nii’s Nuggets of Wisdom

Written by Nii Kpakpo Abrahams, Career Center Peer Advisor, Bachelor of Science in Communication—Ethical Leadership, and soon-to-be Graduate Student in Communication

Nelson Mandela once asserted, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Within one week, the pinnacle goal of my life since I was in kindergarten will have been achieved—graduating and receiving a diploma. As I enter into the “real world” with this carefully crafted weapon, it is imperative that I leave behind some imparting nuggets of wisdom to those who are still climbing that mountain.

Don’t Take Your Education for Granted

One of my biggest pet peeves is watching smart people waste this incredible opportunity. According to the Huffington Post, only 6.7% of the entire world has a college degree. Your college experience is training you to be one of the top people that the world has to offer. DON’T WASTE IT. I’ve seen too many of my peers take this amazing opportunity (notice how I didn’t say right) and squander it on partying and sleeping through classes. The educational knowledge you gain, alongside with the life lessons you learn, will make you the best person you can be—but only if you allow it. Engage in class, seek out and listen to mentors, and maximize your gifts and abilities.

Don’t Let People Tell You the Real World Will Eat You Up

One thing that I never understood was the notion that we aren’t living in the “real world.” Granted, our lives are different in college than if we were working 9-5, but we are living in the real world—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! The real world is the world that we are living in now. So instead of allowing people’s words about the next phase after college scare you, embrace the world you are living in now and learn as much as you can from it. Because let’s be honest: college is HARD. Living on our own for the first time, establishing whole new friendships, completing challenging coursework, worrying about a future career, and of course finding our significant other are enough to make a normal human being cringe. Yet we accept the notion that what we are doing now is nothing compared to after college. Don’t give in to that!

Connections Matter

I was so blessed to receive one of the best internships around working for Cora Scott, the Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement for the city of Springfield. I’ll be working 40 hours a week during the summer, making great money, and doing the things I love the most: being a part of a team, working in a fast-paced environment, and serving people! The crazy part is, I didn’t apply for this internship or look this up on a job website—I just knew people. Without going into too much detail on how I got the position, just know this: people and connections can be your best asset in life. All the jobs I’ve ever had within the University have been because of my connections with people. Now that doesn’t mean view people as commodities, but don’t be afraid to take advantage of the wonderful things people around you are doing! Just as you will have the opportunity to pave the way for someone else to grow, allow others to do the same for you.

As I look back at my four years I’ve been able to do a lot: Resident Assistant, SOAR leader, President of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, Legislative Director in SGA, Homecoming King, and multiple search committees. But at the end of the day, if it weren’t for the good people surrounding me that were willing to keep me grounded and pour great wisdom and advice into me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. My final piece of advice is this: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE. Your college experience is only as good as the people you choose to surround yourself with make it. It’s been an incredible four years, and I can’t wait for the next two years of graduate school and beyond.

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Considering Relocating to Another City? Preparation Is Key

Each episode of HGTV’s show, House Hunters International, shows an individual or entire family moving halfway across the world to some exotic destination. Sometimes this move is a dream-come-true, sometimes it’s stress inducing, but always it brings unexpected challenges.

Many new college graduates will be relocating to begin new careers, and whether they’re moving to another country or to another state, the key is preparation. If you’re planning or considering relocating, the Forbes article, “20 Questions to Ask Yourself before You Relocate for a Job,” is a good checklist of issues to consider.

Cost of Living

One of these issues to consider when relocating is how the cost of living in this new area compares to your current standard of living. Use CNN Money’s Cost of Living Calculator to compare salaries. For example, if Sheila currently makes $30,000 in Springfield, Missouri, and is relocating to Seattle, Washington, she needs to earn $40,023 to maintain her standard of living. The main reason for this $10,000 difference is that prices in general are higher in Seattle, but especially housing. The cost of housing in Seattle is 86% higher than in Springfield.

Networking

If you’re wanting to relocate, but don’t already have a job at your destination, then read Dr. Katharine Hansen’s advice on what to do and not to do in a long-distance job search. It’s all about networking, networking, networking, and LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for this. Check out the alumni section of LinkedIn, because MSU alumni may be living in the area to which you’re relocating.  Also take a look at LinkedIn’s Jobs for Students and Recent Graduates.

Connections to the Area

It’s important to establish a geographic connection with your destination area. For example, do you have friends or family living there? Have you visited there often? A concern that many employers have with hiring relocated employees is that those employees won’t adapt to the new area, suffer from homesickness, and will quit their job to return “home.” According to recruiter Jack Young, “When I speak to a candidate and they have lived in only one city their entire lives I see a huge red flag for that candidate being a potential relocation.” (“The Relocation Dilemma – Candidates and Employers Betwixt and Between”)

Top Cities for Entry-Level Positions

Apartment Guide and Indeed researched the top cities with the most entry-level positions, along with average rents for one- and two-bedroom apartments. Click on the image to see the whole infographic showing the results of the study.

Cities_EntryLevel
2014 Top 10 Cities & Occupations for College Grads

Why Americans Are Moving Less

Recent research from the Federal Reserve Board indicates that Americans are moving less because it isn’t economically worthwhile. In his article, “Why Americans Are Moving Less: New Jobs Aren’t Worth It,” Richard Florida discusses this issue in more detail.

Tips for Conducting a Long-Distance Job Search

Relocating is a major commitment, so before you take that huge step, make sure you’re prepared. Do your research, make sure this decision will be a good fit for you (and anyone else who is moving with you), write down all of the pros and cons to relocating, and, worst-case scenario, have Plan B prepared in case the job or relocation doesn’t work out.

If you’re wondering HOW to conduct a long-distance job search, take a look at this article by Alison Doyle.

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The Overwhelmed Student’s Quick Guide to Creating a Job Search Plan

Linda (not her real name) graduates at the end of the semester, and she’s feeling excited, stressed, anxious, hopeful, and scared. With papers to write, tests to study for, a presentation to give, and projects to complete, she has trouble concentrating on her job search.

Feeling overwhelmed is understandable, so the first thing that Linda needs to do is to create a plan. This will organize her job search and give her control over the tasks. Following are the five steps that Linda is taking to get her job search going in the right direction.

Step 1: Know yourself.

Know who you are and what you have to offer an employer. This may sound like common sense, but unfortunately, many job seekers struggle with communicating this to employers.

“Of course I know who I am,” Linda says. But when she’s asked to define herself and explain her interests and skills, she’s not sure where to start. She struggles when asked to describe what she values most in a career. Linda decides to make an appointment with a Career Resources Specialist to learn more about self-assessment and how to express herself to an employer.

Step 2: Know what you’re looking for.

Linda selected her major because it was broad and offered such a variety of possible careers. Unfortunately, she hasn’t explored the direction she’d like to start with. She had an internship with a non-profit organization, but isn’t sure if that’s the area she wants to pursue.

After looking at “What Can I Do with This Major?” on the Career Center’s website, Linda decides to begin with more business-oriented positions. She’s worked part-time in retail positions and has had the opportunity to do some training and supervising, so she lists management, human resources, and training and development as a few possible career directions.

In addition, Linda uses Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com to explore the kinds of positions employers are hiring for and the skills employers are seeking. As she researches positions, she also notes the companies, so she can research them in more detail.

Learning that the Career Center’s online access to search jobs (called JobTracks) is free to students and alumni, Linda logs in and notices that many employers are interested in all majors. Once she finds postings that appeal to her, she reads their descriptions and instructions for applying.

Step 3: Prepare your job search materials.

Linda soon realizes that her résumé may be too generic for the specific positions she wants to apply for. After consulting the Career Center’s website for résumé information, Linda visits the Career Center’s walk-in hours for a peer advisor to review her résumé and provide tips on tailoring it for specific positions. While there, she also gets advice on writing cover letters.

Step 4. Network and manage your brand.

Because she knows most people get their jobs by networking, Linda makes a list of contacts (such as friends, family, and fellow members in her organizations and associations). She then updates her LinkedIn profile and checks her privacy settings for Facebook (deciding to keep her education and work history public). She makes sure that everything in her social media accounts is acceptable and that nothing would embarrass her or be offensive to potential employers. Finally, she Googles herself to make sure her online presence is positive.

Step 5. Practice your interview techniques.

Realizing that many interviewers wouldn’t consider her Capri pants appropriate interview attire, Linda selects clothes that send a more professional message. To practice, she schedules a mock interview with the Career Center.

Linda knows she has other tasks to complete for an effective job search, but at least these five steps will give her more control as she begins the process of finding a career.

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Meet Professionals in Your Field

Want to learn more about careers that interest you? Want to meet professionals and possibly build a networking relationship with them? Then check out the Exploring Careers panels that are schedule for Thursday and Friday, November 7 & 8.P1030224

We have great panelists participating in these Exploring Careers panels. The professionals provide useful, insightful advice. Not only do these sessions provide audiences with helpful advice for getting started in their careers, but they also give an “insider’s perspective” on what it’s really like to work in the various professions. Additionally, at the end of each session, audience members will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the panelists.

Register for any—or all—of the sessions through JobTracks on the Career Center’s website: http://careercenter.missouristate.edu/ExploringCareersPanel.htm

Thursday, November 7

Careers in Agriculture (Event ID 620)

9:00 – 10:00 AM,  Karls Hall–236

Bulk Loads Now, MFA, Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition, TQL, and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Careers in Education (Event ID 621)

10:45 – 11:45 AM, Traywick Room–PSU 313

Missouri State Teachers Association and Springfield Catholic Schools

Careers in Business: Topic: 10 Ways to Get a Job (Event ID 622)

1:15 – 2:15 PM, Traywick Room–PSU 313

Abacus, AG Financial, Buckle, DK Financial Group, Netchemia, Northwestern Mutual, and TQL


Careers in Healthcare (Event ID 623)

3:00 – 4:00 PM, Professional Building–279

Burrell Behavioral Health, Cleveland Chiropractic College, HealthMEDX, and Phoenix Home Care

 

Friday, November 8

Careers in Arts & Letters (Event ID 624)

9:00 – 10:00 AM, Traywick Room–PSU 313

Jack Henry & Associates Inc., Journal Broadcast Group, Ozarks Public Television & KSMU, and Springfield Music

Careers in Science (Event ID 625)

10:45 – 11:45 AM, Temple Hall– 345

NorthStar Battery Company and Brewer Science


Graduate School Planning (Event ID 626)

1:15 – 2:15 PM, Traywick Room–313

Chocolate Therapy, Missouri State University Res Life, Reece Family Law Firm, and University of Missouri/Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs

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JobTracks: Ever Heard of It?

Written by Josh Hammack, Career Center Peer Advisor, Management Major

JobTracks logo
JobTracks logo

JobTracks is a free site through the Career Center that any Missouri State student can use. However, I feel like it is unknown to so many students. Every time I do a Career Center presentation I try to emphasize how useful it can be. Are you looking for a job or an internship? JobTracks is the way to go.

As you’re using JobTracks, a simple search system makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Use the basic search to look for any full-time, part-time, or temporary position. Want to look for a paid internship? Use the advanced search to narrow down your search to an internship that fits your area of study.

Think this is all too good to be true? It’s not. I searched on JobTracks for about 20 minutes and found an internship I wanted to apply for. I sent in a résumé and within about a week heard back from the company. I had a couple phone interviews and was offered the internship. This is, of course, not guaranteed to happen all the time, but if you put the time into searching and give it a shot, chances are JobTracks can serve you in the same way it did me.

Happy hunting, and don’t forget to stop by or contact the Career Center if you are not registered for JobTracks!

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Interviewing: Tell Me About a Time….

Written by Benjamin Thomas, Employer Relations Graduate Assistant, Career Center

We all have heard those great stories, those motivational speeches, or hilarious anecdotes. Story-telling is a great way to relate an event or to communicate an idea. A job interview, however, is a very common, and sometimes unexpected, reason for telling a story.

Picture it:  You’re in a chair across a desk from an interviewer, or group of interviewers, and you’ve studied and prepared for all the classic questions: “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?”

But how will you respond to, “Tell me about a time when you had to convince someone else to see things your way and how you did that”?

These are called behavioral based questions. Instead of asking for you to describe yourself, or giving descriptive answers like strengths or weaknesses, these questions require you to describe a behavior you displayed.

An Effective Technique for Answering Behavioral Based Questions

The Career Center has an easy strategy that equips you for success in these situations. Just remember SAR:

Situation: Start with the context or antecedent events, for example: “A coworker and I were assigned to work together to increase net sales by 10%. He believed that increased web advertising was the best method, while I felt the use of networking would improve sales.”

Action: Proceed with the story, being sure to address the question asked.  Be specific, concise, and remain positive: “I used research and statistics to demonstrate to my coworker that networking was more effective, and even suggested that we begin with social networking, which is similar to his idea of web advertising.”

Results: Conclude the story with a summary statement, and reaffirm how this supports your strengths: “Together we were able to increase net sales by 15%, a new high for the month of November. I was able to support my ideas, and logically change his mind, which helped our business grow.”

These questions are your chance to shine, to set yourself apart from other applicants. Telling a great story is not a matter of having a perfectly memorized script; instead you should focus on conveying meaning, and demonstrating your strengths as part of the narrative.  If you remember the framework, SAR, can be a great strategy in a pinch.

Examples of Behavioral Based Questions

It is also a good idea to look over lists of behavioral based questions, in order to know what types of answers you should be ready to generate. Below are just a few examples:

http://blog.timesunion.com/careers/50-behavioral-based-interview-questions-you-might-be-asked/1538/

http://www.cgu.edu/include/ocm_behavioralquestions.pdf

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Prepare for the Career Fair

Employers at career fair
Employers setting up display at Career Expo

If you’ve never been to a career fair, the first time you attend can feel overwhelming.

In front of the check-in tables you’ll probably see students forming lines to fill out name tags and pick up event literature. Some students may form clusters with people they know, while other individuals stand by themselves as they look at the literature and try to figure out what to do. You may overhear students asking as they pick up information on the participating companies and organizations, “How does this work? Do I just walk around? Where do I start?”

The Missouri State University Career Center will be hosting a campus-wide career fair on Wednesday, September 25, from noon until 4:00 p.m. in the JQH Arena. All students and alumni from all majors are invited to attend.

Here are some tips to help you navigate a career fair.

What Should I Do BEFORE the Career Fair?

Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready for the career fair. Instead, prepare several days in advance by readying your résumé, selecting your clothes, and researching employers.

Is Your Résumé Ready?

Make sure your résumé has been well developed and proofread. Print it on quality résumé paper, and bring plenty of copies to distribute to employers. If you run out of copies, you may not have easy access to a printer or copier to make more.

Have You Selected Appropriate Attire?

Before employers even speak to you, the first thing they notice is your look. If you’re dressed too casually, you may send the message that you also have a casual attitude about working. Select clothing that is appropriate. Does this mean you should wear a suit? You definitely will see many students wearing suits, but business casual is often acceptable at career fairs. Business casual for this purpose is typically trousers/khakis and shirt with collar (for men) and trousers/skirt and blouse/shirt with collar (for women); NO jeans, NO athletic wear.

The answer depends upon the companies/organizations you’re targeting. If the companies that you’re pursuing are more laid back, then business casual is fine, but if they’re more conservative, then your attire should match.

For female job seekers, don’t wear skirts that are too short or too tight. Avoid tops that are too revealing—exposing too much cleavage or showing your bra/bra straps. In her column, “TV Shows Send Mixed Messages on Workplace Fashion,” (http://goo.gl/xKEkoc) Megan Pearl expresses the importance of finding a balance between wearing the latest trend and dressing the role of a professional.

Career fairs typically demand a lot of walking and standing, so make sure your shoes are comfortable. Stilettos may be more appropriate for a date, and flip-flops are too casual. If your shoes are new, make sure you’ve worn them enough to break them in before you wear them to the career fair.

Do You Know Which Employers Are Attending?

Visit the Career Center’s website (http://careercenter.missouristate.edu/FallCareerFair.htm) to see the list of employers who are planning to attend. You can view their websites and learn about them ahead of time. That way, when you speak with the representatives, you will be knowledgeable of their organization and able to ask educated questions.

What Do I Do When I Arrive at the Career Fair?

The first thing to do when you arrive is to check in at the check-in table, where you can collect a nametag and information on the employers. Try to avoid lugging a backpack with you. Not only does it get in the way, but a backpack disrupts the professional impression you’re trying to make.

Because attending a career fair can be somewhat intimidating, often students want to cling to their friends and approach employers in a herd, but this should be an individual activity. You want to distinguish yourself with the employers you meet. You don’t want to seem fearful or unable to talk to them on your own without the support of your friends.

Although you should research the employers ahead of time to determine those you definitely want to target, also take the opportunity to explore opportunities with employers you may not have considered. You may discover organizations that are a good match for your interest and skills.

Introduce yourself to the employer and give your best handshake (firm but not bone crushing). Make eye contact, smile, and be polite. Be prepared to discuss your career objectives, strengths, skills, interests, and how you would benefit their company. Find out if they’re collecting résumés, what their application process is, and if there are other recruiters or hiring managers you should speak with. Be sure to thank the employers for their time and, if possible, collect their business cards. If they don’t have a business card, then take note of their contact information.

What Happens AFTER the Career Fair?

Follow up as soon as possible (within a week) with those employers that interest you. Send an email message in which you thank them again and express your qualifications and interest.

The career fair can be an opportunity to learn about companies and organizations, make contacts with employers, and potentially have an on-the-spot interview that could lead to a second interview. When you’re looking for an internship or full-time position, attending a career fair could provide you with the connections you need.

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