One year on, one year wiser… Careers Fairs

I often think it is worth going to a careers fair simply to collect the mountains of free goodies on offer- at the Business, Finance and Consultancy Fair this week I managed to amass a number of pens, lanyards and even a water bottle.  However, they are of far more use to students than just to re-stock on stationery.

Wednesday was a packed day in the Aston Webb building, with many students huddling inside to avoid the cold weather but this presented them an opportunity for them to speak to the great range of companies that attended the fair. There were a number of national and international student employers represented including Samsung, BP, Barclays and Nissan. By speaking to all of these companies and more, I managed to build up a strong picture of internship and graduate prospects available to me in the future.

As a second year student, I felt that the careers fairs this year were of even more relevance to me than they were in my first year at University of Birmingham; though in my blog last year https://careersbham.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/careers-fairs-a-first-year%E2%80%99s-perspective/, I still listed a number of reasons why they are useful to first-year students as well. However, having the need to find a summer internship after my second year, made me far more motivated to attend and to speak to as many employers as possible in order to find the work experience that suited me best.

I was somewhat unsure, before attending the fair, of which internships I was going to apply to for the summer. Having gone to the Great Hall on Wednesday, I now have a good starting point to research internships and to fire off some CVs, especially since I am doing a Business Management with Communications degree and so this fair was particularly useful to me.  Going to a careers fair is a great way of reducing the pressure that is piled upon penultimate year students to gain an internship before their final year, or students needing to find a placement for their year in industry, because just by walking around and speaking to a few companies you can gain a valuable insight into the types of companies that you’d want to work for.

If you are unsure about actually talking to employers, it is quite easy to sneak about and grab some information about the schemes that different companies offer. However, by having an actual conversation, you are able to get a better taste of what working for the company is like, particularly since many of the people sent to represent their companies have gone through the same application processes and placement schemes that you are interested in applying to.

Researching the companies that are attending is also highly useful, since it gives you a starting point when talking to them and means that you don’t begin asking an employer questions about their opportunities that might not actually be relevant to yourself. For example I hadn’t heard of a few companies that were going to be at the fair, but after a quick google-ing of their names beforehand I realised that the reason I did not recognise them were because they were finance companies, which weren’t too relevant to myself as I wanted an internship in marketing or public relations.

The Business, Finance and Consultancy Fair has really helped my search for a summer internship and as I look to secure my place on a graduate scheme after University, I’m sure that next year’s one will be just as good- and I will probably have run out of stationary by then.

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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