Accountability and Connections: The Career Fair, from YNK to YMK
by Marty Levine, MA, SPHR, CPRW
Goodwin University Career Specialist
As we all spend an increasingly greater part of our lives in the virtual world, we are developing varying comfort levels of technological maturity. Whether using Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft® Teams, Webex, or other communication platforms, we create familiarity and proficiency with online interaction.
Those who are also conducting job searches at this time must be especially willing to work within these changes. Like it or not, the shift to online career fairs will be a significant aspect of the search process for the foreseeable future. While some similarities to traditional career fair models will likely carry over, there will be differences — and possibly even advantages — to consider.
In the spirit of helping you successfully navigate the job search process under these new, and continually evolving, conditions, I’d like you to consider the concepts of “You Never Know (YNK)” and “You Must Know (YMK)” discussed below.
It’s clear that you are responsible to do all you can to ensure that your job search is successful. This involves having an appropriately developed résumé and cover letter; using search engines and aggregators in the right manner; and networking to your best advantage. At Goodwin University, this also means capitalizing on important resources including your career specialists, faculty, librarians, and a host of others professionals ready to help.
Clearly, a critical resource in your search is the career fair, whether on-ground or online. And this now brings us to YNK and YMK. By considering the following career fair tips and suggestions, I hope to encourage you to appreciate the YNK mindset and to enthusiastically embrace the YMK path to success.
It is important that you accept a level of responsibility for making any career fair a success for you because, well, YNK. Think about these career fair tips and see how well prepared you are for encounters with potential employers.
Pre-register for the fair so that your Career Services office has a sense of how many participants will be present and can meet both participant and employer needs.
Have your résumé readily available, electronically or hard copy, during the fair. Make sure that you are ready to discuss any special projects or presentations within your background and that you can share experiences with appropriate equipment, technology, medical devices, and more.
Begin connecting to employers. If you have the list of employers who will be attending, start your research. Become familiar with company core values, mission statements, and the “About Us” section of their websites.
Clear your schedule as much as possible so you can devote your full attention on the fair. Arrive (or log in) early, take notes, ask questions, and follow up with employer representatives. You have a great opportunity to use the career fair experience for your benefit, whether you are in a virtual situation or not.
Be prepared to answer employer questions such as “What transferrable skills, accomplishments, training, and value would you will bring to our company?” or “What motivates you in your career choice and in the workplace?” You should also be confident enough to pose questions of your own, based on your interests, knowledge of self, and expectations: “How do you emphasize teamwork and collaboration within your company? What might my responsibilities be during my first 30 to 90 days on the job?”
Your attire should be appropriate even in online situations. In the article How to Ace the Virtual Interview (2020), author Kim Brettschneider suggests, “Consider an artificial backdrop. In a video interview, you need to focus on nuances you would normally ignore — like the setting… If you can’t create an attractive, office-like (work-like) background at home, utilize virtual backdrop settings available on (many) of the video services.”
You are accountable to make this experience work for you, no matter the format, because YNK. An offer of employment may come your way because of some action you took during the career fair! Within a week following the fair, send a well-crafted email to several employer representatives expressing your interest in particular positions within their organizations.
From YNK to YMK, a successful job search means making the most of your resources, being well prepared, and believing in all you have to offer your future employer!
Learn more about the many ways Goodwin University’s Career Services team can assist you in your search for a rewarding and meaningful career by visiting www.goodwin.edu/career-services.
Marty Levine, MA, SPHR, CPRW has been with Goodwin University’s Career Services for more than six years, working with students, alumni, and employers in a variety of venues. He assists students of varying backgrounds and skills who are looking at their first, second, and in some cases, third career. With his extensive background in healthcare and other fields as a college instructor, consultant, and healthcare administrator, he believes that all students and alumni have the ability to promote “their best selves” and succeed in their career goals! Marty has worked with employees and students in such areas as résumé development, mock interviews, general career coaching, and more.