Shine at Internship and Careers Fairs: Tips for International and Local Students in Australia

Whether you’re an international or a local student or a new graduate, ask yourself this: Are you taking advantage of internship and careers fairs and employer meet-ups? These events are all-important for finding out about opportunities and industry trends that can help you with your career planning.

Be sure to take full advantage of internship and careers fairs. You’ll have a chance to learn about the companies you might already be interested in, meet industry professionals, network, and perhaps even carve a path to an internship or your first graduate job. Here are five tips on what you can do before, during, and after career and internship fairs and employer meet-ups to make the most of it.

Tip 1: It’s All About Preparation - Research and Get to Know the Companies

Do your homework. Before you attend the event, research the businesses that will be there. Understanding a company's mission, values, and the roles it offers shows genuine interest and preparation. Look at the companies’ recent projects, the industries they serve, and any news articles about them. This knowledge will help you customise your questions, observations and conversations to demonstrate that you’re informed and enthusiastic.

Dig deeper and find out about the internships or job roles the companies you’re interested in offer. If you can find access to internship or job descriptions you’ll get to understand what skills, qualifications and personal qualities the businesses are looking for. This way, you can highlight your relevant experience, skills, and, most importantly, your personal attributes, leaving a positive impression by showing that you know what you're talking about.

Tip 2: Practice - Prepare a Personal Introduction

Have you heard of the “elevator pitch”? It’s basically a short, to-the-point introduction about yourself. It should be a concise summary of who you are, your educational background, and your career aspirations. Aim for a pitch that lasts about 30-60 seconds, making it brief but comprehensive.

To catch your audience’s attention, keep your elevator pitch brief and to the point but relevant and engaging. Mention specific aspects of your background and personal qualities that align with the company's needs. Practice your pitch until you can deliver it smoothly and confidently.

Tip 3: Dress to Impress - Make Sure You Look Smart

Choose your clothes wisely. Wear tidy, smart clothes that suit the event. Business casual is usually a safe bet, but the dress code can vary depending on the industry. For instance, tech companies might be more relaxed, while finance businesses often expect formal attire.

Dressing well shows that you take the event seriously. Ensure your clothes are clean, well-fitted, and appropriate for the type of companies you're interested in. Your appearance is part of the first impression you make.

Tip 4: Ask Smart Questions - Show You're Interested

Prepare some thoughtful questions to ask the people you meet about their company and the opportunities they have. This will demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in their work or their business. Ask about the company culture, recent projects, or specific challenges they face in the industry.

Be sure to focus on your internship or broader career goals. Ask about things that matter to you and your career. For instance, you could discuss career progression trends, training opportunities, or team dynamics. Let them know you're excited about the opportunity to intern or get employment with them. This not only shows your interest but also helps you gauge if the company is a good fit for you.

Tip 5: Engage - That is, Listen, Learn, and Follow Up

Be sure to listen actively. When you meet someone and ask them questions about their company, listen to their answers and pay attention to what they say. Show interest by nodding, maintaining eye contact, and asking follow-up questions based on their responses.

Use the opportunity to make connections. Note the person’s name, ask for a business card, and thank them for their time. This shows respect and leaves a positive impression. Make brief notes about your conversation to help you remember important details later.

Follow up on the best or most interesting conversations. If you are interested in an opportunity, get in touch with the person you spoke with a few days after the event. Send them an email recapping what you discussed and expressing your interest in the opportunity. A thoughtful follow-up can reinforce your interest and keep you on their radar.

Bonus Tip for International Students

As an international student, it's crucial to understand the visa requirements for working in Australia. Be prepared to discuss your visa status and any restrictions it might have.

Highlight the unique skills and perspectives you bring as an international student. Cultural diversity, language skills, and a global perspective can be valuable assets to many companies.

If you need help with preparation, find out about suitable support services. Many universities offer career services specifically for international students. Use these resources to refine your resume, practice interviews, and learn about additional networking opportunities.

Just to Recap the Five Tips

Follow these tips to prepare for a career or internship fair or an employer networking event and make the most of it. By doing your homework, preparing a strong introduction, dressing appropriately, asking smart questions, and following up, you'll stand out from the crowd.

Remember, these events are not just about finding an internship or even a job but also opportunities to make connections and learn about the industry. We wish you all the best!