Sunday, July 26, 2009

Prepare And Act Positively In Job Fairs

Couple weeks ago, me and my team (graduation project team) participated in our collage job fair. It was a quite interesting experiences, that's why I thought I should share it here.

So, let's start from the beginning. What's a "Job Fair"?? Well, it's some sort of events that companies representatives (and in this case IT companies representatives) and fresh graduates are to meet each other. It aims to give fresh graduates an opportunity to hand their CVs to the IT companies, and also to make the companies have a look at the graduation projects (GP).

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Most fresh graduate think it's a brilliant chance to hunt a job, through meeting IT companies, handing their CV, presenting their GP, having a small on-run interview. And if you ware good enough, you might get an interview appointment at the company headquarter.

There's some well-known fairs that I knew, such as ESEA Job Fairs in 2006 and 2007, Egyptian Engineering Day (EED) that still hold each year, and some fairs that's hold in different universities and collages like Cairo University, Helwan University, Ain Shams University, Faculty of Engineering, etc.

I had shared in ESEA Job Fair 2006 as an organizer in the GPs hall, and (as I said in the beginning) I'd just shared in FCI-CU Job Fair as a graduate with my GP. Now, I'm to list some tips what might help anyone likes to pass with such experience.

Preparing for job fairs should be on three main phases:

Phase#1: Before The Fair Day

Fair Organizers Committee will announce about the fair before its day with a sufficient time. So, you have to make the best of that. You may do the following:

1- Prepare your CV: Update, review, and revise it very well.

2- Get the list of the participated companies: If you are to meet *someone*, then you have to know that *someone*. Get the companies list, visit their website, study them well, and sort them according to your interests and priorities.

3- Know where the fair will be: Check the location of the even. Define how will you get there (car, bus, taxi, etc.), and how much time would it consume. That would help you to not waist time in the fair day searching for the right directions!

4- Prepare the presentation: If you'll share with your GP, then you'll need a PowerPoint presentation (PPT). Make sure that your PPT focus on the most important point in your GP. Important points that would attract your audience, such as the business value of your idea, the technologies and frameworks you used, challenges you faced and how you resolved it, etc.

5- Rehearse: Oh, I believe it's obvious now! Once there's a presentation, then there mush be a rehearse on it :D. Just don't forget to make a rehearsal with your team and divide the PPT between you all, and another one that each one of you do it alone by him/herself (I'll tell you why later on).

6- Expect on-the-fly interview: Well, it's not practically an interview, just expect some questions through your presentation. Don't answer such questions so lightly, as they're not *innocent* questions ;)

7- Ad your project: Make whatever possible to make your GP shiny. That would include designing and printing a poster. Just check if the event organizing committee allow hanging posters, and try to figure out what the color of the hall is (say the hall walls are brown, then you can't make your poster with brown theme). Some organizing committees print a brochure with a list of all participated GPs , then you have to choose the most perfect phases that describe your GP. Make it attractive, interesting, and to the point. Be creative and do whatever crazy ideas you have in mind ;)

8- Check your GP: Away from having good memories or bad ones with your GP before its discussion, you should take a look at it. Try to enhance its interface as much as possible, to be ready for the demo section in yourPPT.

9- Dress formally of course! Formal dresses, but comfortable too.

10- Get the day agenda. Most cases, you'd find it announced before the day.

11- Print your CV: Don't forget it. It's what the whole day is about. And keep this equation in your head
no. of participated companies = no. of CV copies + 3
Have +3 copies as risk handling ;)

Phase#2: At The Fair Day Itself

1- Be early: Try to be there before the day starts by 30min minimum. Registration process would consume some time. So, give yourself some time to find your position in the GP hall, set your equipments, hang your poster, handle any exception that might occur, and take a deep breath to start your day.

2- Link with the organizers: At the hall you will be, there will be some organizers (runners) to help you if you need anything. Have a quick and light friendship with those guys. Why?? OK, those guys have details about the participated company, and about all the GPs as well. Think of them as a link between you and the companies. So, you need to know one of the organizers (remember his name) and tell him a very brief description about your GP. You'd find him coming to you after a while with a representative of a company. Simply, use the organizers to propagate your GP. Keep in mind that he do this with all the others GPs, so choose small easy-to-remember keywords about your GP.

3- Be a bee: Oh yeah! Don't stand like a tree. Move through the whole space. Go to the companies disks or booths and invite them to take a look at your GP. Be updated with the whole atmosphere. Meet new people, make new relationships, and have new friends. Ask the organizers to fetch feedback from who you'd just make presentation. etc.

4- Utilize you energy: Believe me, if the event would last for only 4 hours according to its agenda, then you'll put efforts equal to working for only 4 day!! You'll find yourself doing too many exhausting activities (presenting, standing up for long periods, talking, etc.). So, save your power by switching load between you and your team. That's why I told you to rehears on making the whole presentation by yourself ;). Don't overload on one team member cause before the end of the day, you'll find him announcing his own end!!

5- Trace the process: Meeting too many people at very short time will cause memory overflow in your head! After each presentation, write down the representative's name, his contacts, his feedback and impression about you, and his company.

Phase#3: After The Fair Day

1- Have asleep! But not for weeks of course :D

2- Follow up: Remember that paper you wrote each representative you met? It's time to use it now ;). Follow up with them, and make them feel that you care and interested in their company.

3- Make issue-learned notes: Well, it still a good experience after all. So, write down things you learned from it. Maybe it'll be helpful some other time :)

At the end, well, It's only my own thoughts. Hope you find it worthy :)

And Good Luck en shaa Allah

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