Careers fairs are a helpful way to explore your career options in a casual environment. You get the chance to meet employers face to face and be introduced to a company first-hand. If you end up applying for a job or apprenticeship there, this experience is invaluable.

But, they can be an overwhelming experience; there are lots of people to talk to and not a lot of time. It’s important to try and make the most out of the day, so you are giving yourself the best chance of finding an apprenticeship right for you.

Here at Employing an Apprentice, we have compiled a list of the best ways to utilise a careers fair so you can meet some great future employers.

Do your research

If you carry out some research before the event you can read up on some of the businesses attending. The host of the event, usually your school or university, will usually publish a list of all the employers taking part in the fair, so have a read through and decide what apprenticeships you most are interested in, and which companies you most want to meet. Plan your visit with enough time to see each of these employers and approach these companies first. This way, you ensure you meet the businesses you are interested in; and any extra time can be used for having a further look around. Another tip is to make sure you are attending the right fair for you. For example, there is no point in attending an apprenticeships fair for engineering if you know you want to work in media. There are usually multiple fairs running throughout the academic year, so do your research early to discover the fairs most suited to you.

Questions

After you have done some research about who will be at the fair, it’s a good idea to plan what questions you want to ask the employers. It can sometimes be hard to think of questions on the spot, and you don’t want to leave without any essential information. You might want to write a few questions down and bring them with you, this way you won’t worry about forgetting what to ask and the employer will see you are keen and prepared. Examples of questions to ask include how much time you spend on the job compared to studying, or what your options are if you want to work part-time, or how your qualifications are assessed.

Be confident

When you arrive at the fair, try not to hang back, and let other people ask all the questions. Employers like to meet people interested in their business, so don’t be shy and back yourself. It is important to remember this is not an interview; it’s just a chance for you to find out what employers and opportunities are out there, so make the most of it. An excellent way to make a positive impression on the employer is to demonstrate your interest; if you think you will apply to their apprenticeship, tell them why you want to do so.

Be proactive

Employers love to see students and future apprentices using their initiative and being proactive when exploring their potential career path. If you meet someone who made a big impression on you or gave some great advice, ask for their email or if you can arrange a meeting for more information. This kind of action will help you stand out from the crowd and show employers you are serious about their business. It may also be beneficial to ask what else a company is doing for its recruitment drive. They may be hosting a talk that day or another event at your university next week; you might find something beneficial to your application.