Each semester, approximately 150 companies come to the Rice University Career Expo looking to employ Rice students. What does that look like? Last year, the event filled the entire main gym of Tudor Fieldhouse and spilled out into surrounding hallways. How are you ever going to see it all in five hours??! Below are some tips to help you get the most out of your Expo experience.
Registration for the Career Expo is available to Rice students on Handshake (the new platform for RICELink). When you arrive at the Expo you sign in and receive your name tag. Also, while you are on RICELink, check out the various upcoming company info sessions. Since there are lots of recruiters already in the area for the Expo, many also hold information sessions at around the same time. This is a great way to network with recruiters early in the hiring process, so they are familiar with you when you show up to Expo.
- Touch up your resume.
If you talk to any recruiters while at the Expo, they will likely ask for a copy of your resume. Make sure that it is up to date and has been reviewed by a member of the CCD staff! Talk to one of your college PCAs, schedule a resume appointment at the CCD, stop by resume walk-in hours (every weekday, 12-1 at Huff House), or attend Resumayhem to have a Rice alum, CCD staff member, or PCA look it over.
- Prepare your elevator pitch.
The idea behind the Career Expo is that recruiters can meet face to face with potential employees. Be prepared to talk about yourself! Have a short, professional introduction ready, including your year, major, experience, and career interests, for when you meet recruiters. Refer to the CCD resources on elevator pitches for more information.
- Do your research.
There are over 100 companies at the Expo. It would be nearly impossible to go to every single recruiter’s booth in one day. Target your networking time to specific companies that you know are hiring for your specific year and major. The CCD has a list of all of the companies signed up for the Expo, and a short description of each, on their website. For example, if you are a junior engineering major, refine this list to include only the companies that are hiring interns with your specific qualifications. Once you have a list of companies that you would like to meet with, write them down so you can look for their booth on the day of the Expo. Also, be sure to prepare some relevant questions to ask recruiters when you get there.
- Lastly, come prepared and look the part!
First impressions are extremely important when you meet a recruiter for the first time. Dress appropriately (a neutral colored suit is always a safe option) and bring more copies of your resume than you’d think you would need. You never know who might ask for a copy! During my first career expo, I ran out of resumes and had to go back to my college to print out more. Learn from my mistakes! Bring all papers in a professional looking folder or portfolio, along with anything else you may need for the positions to which you are applying (transcript, references, etc).
The first time you come to the Career Expo can be overwhelming, with many aisles of booths and hundreds of students and recruiters. But the Expo is an important networking opportunity for all students of all year and majors. Every year, many underclassmen receive internship offers as a result of their Expo networking, and graduating seniors can land full-time positions! Freshmen, it may be harder for you to get interviews at the Expo (especially during the fall semester), but it is still good to show up, get your name out to recruiters, and get familiar communicating with recruiters. So come out to Expo, be confident, and get hired!
Lauren Poole is a Peer Career Advisor from Hanszen College. She is a sophomore studying chemical engineering.