Career Fairs for Introverts

Are you shy and overwhelmed by career fairs? Martha Brill shares tips on how to manage what might seem like a daunting event.

Career fairs, like the upcoming University-Wide Career Fair on Oct. 21, can be overwhelming events for just about everyone, but especially for introverts who may feel drained when interacting with large numbers of people. If you’re introverted, it’s helpful to pay attention to your energy level, take breaks if necessary, and give yourself as much time as you need.

As a person who gets energy from your inner world rather than from interacting with lots of people, you bring particular strengths to your internship/job search. Some of these may include focused preparation ahead of time, comprehensively thinking things through, doing thorough research on the company or position, and reflecting on the connection between your background and what is required.

On the day of the career fair, observe carefully, ask thoughtful questions, and listen actively to clearly understand what the recruiter is seeking in a strong applicant. Here are some tips for introverts to succeed at a career fair.

Prepare Your Conversation

Preparing how to present yourself starts by integrating your skills, knowledge, and interests into an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is essentially a one-minute overview of what you bring to the company or position. Be prepared to talk about specific examples that support your relevant skills.

Dress the Part

First impressions are very important in making a favorable impression. Even before you speak about yourself, a recruiter will be taking in your overall appearance and nonverbal communication. Have a firm handshake, make strong eye contact, and give a warm, confident smile. Present yourself as a professional and you will make a positive first impression. It will also help you feel more confident.

Do Your Research

Don’t be intimidated by the sheer numbers of employers at a career fair. Identify a reasonable number of employers you plan to approach. Start with the list of companies located on our website close to the day of the fair. Research each company of interest through their website and by using LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Vault. Consider the questions; “Why this particular company?” or “How do my values match up with this company’s mission?”

Practice Makes Perfect

Sometimes it can feel intimidating to introduce yourself to a new professional. This is why practicing what you want to say will help you to relax and feel more confident. If you need some one-on-one practice, schedule an individual appointment to practice in person or use the online mock interview tool Big Interview located in the resource section of Handshake.

Follow up

Once you have met with your thoughtfully selected recruiters, get some time by yourself to reflect, process, and make notes on you learned. Evaluate how each of your conversations went and decide what your next steps will be. Always be sure to get a business card and send a thank-you note expressing your enthusiasm and interest.

Don’t allow your nervousness in attending such a large event discourage you from presenting yourself at your best. Recruiters are waiting to meet you!

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