Q&A: How to make a big impression at the Internship Career Fair
The Internship Career Fair, sponsored by University Career Services, will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the University Center Houston Room. To help students prepare for the event, Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator Priyanka Raut and Career Counselor Andrew Tessmer have answered The Daily Cougar’s questions on how to stand out in the crowd.
The Daily Cougar: How can students find out which companies will be at the fair, and can you include the link?
Priyanka Raut: This is the link to our participating employers.
TDC: What is appropriate dress for the fair?
PR: We recommend students come dressed in business formal attire, like a suit or a formal shirt and pants. Skirts are appropriate for women, as long as they are not too short or too long.
TDC: Should resumes be in a certain font or on a certain type of paper?
PR: Resumes should ideally be about a page, proofread for typos; have it reviewed by a Career Counselor — we have walk-in hours Monday to Thursday 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. with late night walk-in hours on Mondays and Tuesdays from 2 to 6:30 p.m. Avoid creative fonts, graphics, small font size… you may use Times New Roman font with 11-to-12 point font size. Students may print resumes on a resume paper. Here is a link to our resume handout.
TDC: What is worth including on your resume? What about cover letters?
PR: Your resume should include most recent and relevant experiences, knowledge (and) skills. These are some of the sections to include on your resume:
1. Identification data
2. Career summary or objective
4. Work experience
6. Honors (and) activities
Here is a link to our resume handout.
A cover letter explains to the employer your interest in the position, how your skills are a good fit with what the employer is looking for, and requesting the employer for an interview or a meeting.
All cover letters should:
1. Be concise and professional in tone.
2. Explain why you are sending a resume.
3. Tell how you learned about the position or organization.
4. Convince the reader to look at your resume. It must grab the reader’s attention (in a positive way) and should be targeted to that particular employer.
5. Highlight your education and experience.
6. Indicate what you will do to follow-up.
TDC: What if you don’t have much experience to put on your resume, but you still want an internship? Can you put things from high school?
PR: If you are in your freshman year, you may include some relevant experiences from high school, but we strongly recommend that as you move up to upper classification — sophomore and higher — you do not include any high school information in your resume. Class projects, volunteer work, community services (and) shadowing experiences may be used to reflect knowledge or interest in a particular field.
TDC: When engaging in small talk with employers, what is OK to discuss? What’s off limits?
PR: Small talk is just that … small talk. Avoid topics such as politics, religion, money or any other topic that has strong leanings one way or another. It is OK to discuss weather, local sports teams or recent events that are not politically charged. However, the focus of the Internship Career Fair is to gain an internship, so it is best to stick to internship-related topics of conversation.
TDC: What are employers looking for in interns?
Andrew Tessmer: Each organization has different requirements and preferences. Most common characteristics: major; GPA; work (and) volunteer experience; some focus on personal interests and school activities to get insight about you; some focus on characteristics like communication skills, interpersonal skills, teamwork, motivation (and) initiative, flexibility (and) adaptability.
Employers are particularly looking for interns to have interest in the field, relevant coursework, out-of-classroom experience and the willingness to learn and be adaptable to new experiences. As with a full- or part-time position, employers seek candidates who are enthusiastic about the position and are likable.
TDC: How do you set yourself apart from other students?
AT: Preparation. Do not just show up for a career fair.
Things to do before the career fair include:
1. Setting up your account on career.uh.edu and uploading your resume
2. Researching participating employers
3. Planning a strategy to navigate the fair
4. Preparing your 30-second commercial
5. Preparing for interviews, as some employers may conduct on-the-spot interviews
6. Deciding upon your attire for the fair
Things to do on the day of the fair include:
1. Arriving early — at least 30 minutes before the fair begins — to give yourself time for registering and reviewing the layout
2. Maintaining professionalism at all times, i.e. avoid taking freebies (or) using slang language. Approach a recruiter with a smile and offer a hand when you introduce yourself. After a brief discussion with the recruiter, collect the organizational literature — brochures, et cetera — and ask for (the) recruiter’s business card. Ask about (the) next step in the recruiting process or the preferred method of follow-up.
3. Taking notes of conversations and interviews
Things to do after the fair include:
4. Following up with recruiters. Thank them for their time and restate your interest and qualifications for the position.
This handout outlines how to make the most of a career fair.