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How To Get the Most out of a Career Fair


This blog post was written by Allison D., Senior Manager of University Relations.

Career Fairs can be a great way to learn more about a company as well as hear directly from current employees what it is like to work somewhere. Hear from Allison D., Senior Manager of University Relations, on her advice for navigating university career fairs. Not in school? Her advice rings true for any career fair or expo: Virtual or in-person. 

Before the Event: Do the Research

Find out who will be at the career fair and make sure you have a general idea of what they do/what industry they are in. You can achieve this by looking up the companies on LinkedIn. It is the worst first impression when a student comes to the table and asks, “So what do you do exactly?” In fact, it’s usually the first question we ask – “Are you familiar with Centene?” I understand we are not necessarily a consumer brand or a company that college students have worked with but that goes to show you it is an opportunity to really stand out by doing your homework.

Pro Tip: try to connect with the University Relations Ambassadors/Recruiters before the event. 

Centene students at career fair

During the Event: Have a Pitch

The second question that is often asked is “Tell me about yourself.” And 9 out of 10 times students start with “I’m a student at X University majoring in X major.” By the time the fall recruiting season is over, I will have heard that thousands of times. Instead, try to differentiate yourself. Be memorable by being friendly and transparent. You could even start with, “I’m practicing my pitch; could you please give me some feedback?” At the same time, make sure you convey your interest by demonstrating you did your homework. You could even practice with companies you are less interested in. I will never forget the intern I hired who shared his secret (after he was hired) that he was actually practicing his pitch on me – he had no intention of wanting to work for us! But that’s where we, the University Relations team and Centene Ambassadors, come in. We will do our best to align your career interests with our opportunities at Centene.

Pro tip: Need help crafting a pitch? – here’s some great advice from the Muse.

summer interns at a career fair for centene

After the Event: Follow up and show your gratitude! 

When the career fair has ended, and your fingers (if virtual) or feet are aching, your job is not over. This is the best time to shine and follow-up with a thank you to the companies you met. My advice is to do it two ways. First, within 24 hours, write an email thanking the representatives you met with. Again, try to stand out by mentioning something specific from your conversation. Remember, your goal is to show gratitude but also be top of mind for the representatives because they have likely met at least 30 other students at the event. Make sure to attach your resume (and include your email/LinkedIn/cell). This will save the Recruiter time and energy to find your resume or contact information. 

Second, send another communication 5 business days later. This time with information to be memorable. Maybe you can share that you have tweaked your pitch to include more specific projects you have worked on based on their feedback. Or you might mention that you saw an article or an announcement about the company. Pro Tip: Hopefully by now you have connected with the recruiter or Ambassador on LinkedIn. Did you know there is a LinkedIn voice message capability? Similar to a voicemail, you can send a quick thank you message via the web or LinkedIn mobile app. You can really stand out and be memorable! 

Bonus/pro tip: many companies, like Centene, are not collecting paper resumes. Be prepared to send your resume electronically by making sure you have it in a PDF form. This will allow you to spend the time talking about your interests and asking questions (and not being surprised when asked to submit it online). 

Centene employee with interns

Centene’s Career Day

Centene has held both a spring and fall career day. At these events, participants are able to learn more about life at Centene directly from employees across the company. Participants will also hear what makes Centene a great place to work such as our Employee Inclusion Groups and workplace flexibility. Join our talent community to stay up to date on the latest at Centene and learn about future Career Days.

Centene team at career day

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