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Asked by T on September 15, 2015

As a freshman in college, what should I do at career fairs? What should I say/discuss with employers?

Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on September 16, 2015

As a freshman, I would be up front with employers when speaking to them at career fairs. A majority of companies do not offer internships to freshmen students, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have other opportunities for you to stay connected. When approaching an employer at a career fair, I would explain that you are a freshman and understand they may not have internship opportunities but that you are interested in learning about other opportunities they may have for students at your grade level. Some companies offer corporate events or visits for freshmen and sophomores so this is a great chance to learn about these types of opportunities.

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at Asurion, on September 17, 2015

I think it's incredibly wise for freshmen to attend career fairs. Not only does it help the student become comfortable with the career fair setting, but it also allows the student to begin networking early in their college career. While most companies do not have work opportunities for freshmen, there are still reasons to talk to employers. First, it's always great to meet professionals and learn more about companies. Second, it presents a great opportunity to ask for professional advice. I recommend you have a few questions to ask employers such as, "What advice do they have for a freshman to build their resume, so they are a competitive candidate for internships/full-time positions in the future?" or "When the times comes to apply for positions, what can I expect from the process?". Employers will be impressed with your forward-thinking and wisdom to seek advice. Using career fairs as a learning experience while a freshman will set you up for success when you attend them as an upperclassman. 

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Answered by Kelly, Hiring Expert at The Schwan Food Company, on September 17, 2015

First, I think it's great that you're starting to attend career fairs as a Freshman. It's a way for you to show initiative and interest in learning about the companies & what they generally have to offer in terms of internships and entry-level positions. The fact that you are getting in front of employers at this point is smart. I would initially recommend talking to them more about the company and how they're structured to help you better understand how their divisions & roles interplay. Larger organizations do tend to hire students that are Juniors+ but some smaller organizations or start-ups are sometimes open to hiring Freshman & Sophomores. Speak to what you've accomplished so far in your academics, student organizations, and any work experience. Make sure to establish connections via LinkedIn with the reps you speak with the career fairs. Give them your resume and make sure to stay in touch at least once a year until you become eligible for an opportunity. You’ll then hopefully be front of mind for your top choice companies. Also, come up with a good elevator speech for initial engagement.
Best of luck!

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Answered by Siobhan, Hiring Expert at Accenture, on September 18, 2015

It’s great to attend events as a freshman to learn more about what companies do and the various roles that will be available for you upon graduation. You can ask about internship opportunities and things that they look for in qualified applicants. You can ask if they have alumni from your school that you are able to network with and learn more about their roles. Networking is important in the career search and attending career fairs is one way to begin to establish your network! - Laura, Accenture campus recruiter

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on September 22, 2015

The more you know, the better equipped you will be when the time is right for you to launch your career.  Be up front with employers and let them know that you realize you might be ineligible for their current open positions, but you take your networking and your future seriously.  Talk about where they see their industry going, ask questions about what majors make sense, make money and make up the future.  Building a network with the company representatives gives you an opportunity to ask your questions again and again as you learn more about yourself and how you want your future career to look.  I appreciate ambition and gumption, sounds like you have both in spades.

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