Should you attend a career fair or graduate school fair as a first year student?

Yes you should…..

This is a common question among first year students. You are just starting your college career, still getting used to your new roommate and new schedule. You aren’t going to be looking for a career job or graduate school for several years. Why should you attend a career fair now?

If this is what you are thinking, then you are missing out on the benefits of attending a career or graduate school fair. Here are just a few benefits:

  1. Confidence: It takes practice to build up your confidence for the job and graduate school search. Starting early will give you a lot of time to practice. The fair is a great place to meet and interact with recruiters as you begin to build your professional confidence.

Pro Tip: Watch how upperclassmen are dressed and how they are interacting with recruiters. This is invaluable intel on how to be professional.


  1. Professionalism: Professionalism begins with how you act, how you dress and present yourself.

Pro Tip: No need to break the bank to purchase expensive, professional clothing for the fair as a first year student. Anything a step up from jeans and a t-shirt will do. See more tips on what to wear 

  1. Part-Time Jobs, Job Shadows and Internships: Not all employers are there to recruit students for full time jobs. You may find opportunities for volunteer work, job shadowing,  part-time work and internships.

Pro Tip: Be prepared to give your “elevator pitch” when meeting with recruiters. You never know when a great opportunity may present itself. Find more information on creating your elevator pitch.

  1. Networking: If you are taking advantage of all the fair has to offer, you will end up with a lot of contacts. These could be leads for internships, job shadows, informational interviews or graduate school programs to research. 

Pro Tip: Consider starting a spreadsheet of contacts that you can add to throughout your time at Augustana. 

  1. Resumes: No resume? No problem! If you are attending the fair with information seeking in mind, you don’t need a resume.

Pro Tip: When you are ready to create or update your resume, find some great tips here.

  1. Learn for next year: Take notes about what you observed so that you can fine tune your networking skills and be a pro at your next career or graduate school fair!

Pro Tip: Bring some friends with you to compare notes and look to see if “first timer” tours or sessions are being offered.

If you are still wondering if you should attend a career or graduate school fair, talk to your career coach about your questions and hesitations. The benefits of starting the career research process early by attending a career or graduate school fair could produce some amazing benefits. You just need to take a leap of faith, and do it!


By Beth Ford
Beth Ford Career Coach for the Health Sciences & First Year Student Advisor