A finalist’s guide to the Autumn Fair

Autumn Careers Fair

Last Wednesday, the university hosted their annual Autumn Careers Fair in the Great Hall of the Aston Webb building. At the Autumn Fair, graduate recruiters set up their stalls with information and freebies and await students to approach them – who could potentially be their future employees! The fair is a chance for employers to reach out to under- and post-graduates – and from a students’ point of view, it is a great opportunity to meet potential employers, ask questions and hopefully receive some answers. It is always a popular event amongst both students and indeed employers, who have to book well in advance if they want to have a presence at the fair.

Getting in and getting started

For a student, if you want to get involved in the Autumn Fair, it’s a pretty simple process – you just need to turn up on the day. Obviously a lot of other students have the same idea as you, and so the fair can be extremely busy. I found that it quietened down towards the end, say, from 2-3, the last hour of the event. The Great Hall – although it is definitely great in one sense of the word – is not huge, and you may find that it is a little cramped. Don’t worry though – hold your ground and make sure you give yourself the chance to speak to the companies and services that you really want to. It could be one of the most important conversations of your university career!

So, who’s there?

There is a relatively wide choice of employers at the event – I personally found it was a heavy on the accountancy and professional industry sector. If, like me, you have no interest in marketing and accountancy, consultancy you may find yourself a little disappointed but there were also representatives from  other sectors. For those of you that are looking for a career in one of those disciplines, you’ll be spoiled for choice. All the “big hitters” were at the fair – the likes of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and IBM – as well as more commonly known companies such as Tesco, Microsoft, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer. For a more alternative career, the Army, Royal Air Force, security services and Aston Martin were also represented; a fact which I’m sure will interest the future James Bonds amongst you. Last but not least, the revamped university Careers service was also present at the fair, including a CV clinic, which proved to be extremely popular.

What do I say to them?

I think there is a lot of pressure on students – from students – to sound like experts when they talk to potential employers. However, I find it better to just be honest and relaxed. The employee representatives are there to offer advice, and will give out tailored information for you and your degree. It’s important to listen to what they are saying, rather than spend time talking yourself! Another important point to remember is to pick up the leaflets, booklets and general literature on offer at the employees’ stalls. It can be hard to take everything in during a short conversation surrounded by hundreds of other students. Take the information home with you, spend time looking over it and make a decision based on your more detailed research about what companies you may be interested in working for.

 

 

Finally…

Be open-minded about the Fair and meeting potential employers. Don’t expect to walk out of the building with a £50k-a-year job lined up. You may be disappointed by the information you receive from one employer, but pleasantly surprised after a conversation with another. Try and think about what these companies can do for you – and don’t get hung up on mapping your entire career out in one day. Think about other opportunities, such as internships and training programmes, which could be hugely beneficial. And last but not least – enjoy!

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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