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Career fair: Opening doors to a promising career

A career fair is an excellent opportunity to come into direct contact with companies. At such fairs, you receive first-hand application advice from those who are responsible for making personnel decisions every day. Gita Lestari from Indonesia visited the career fair "Connecta" at the University of Münster.

by Maria Horschig

Consultation at the Connecta © Horschig/DAAD
Consultation at the Connecta . © Horschig/DAAD

Gita would like to complete an internship this summer. Now in her sixth semester studying Communication Science, she hopes to use the career fair to gather information about her career options.

Preparation

Most career fairs provide a brochure with a list of exhibitors. You can use it to learn more about the companies, which will be attending the fair. This allows you to find out in advance what kind of work they do and what their areas of specialisation are. "Those who are interested in getting an internship should know where they want to go and not ask basic questions," recommends Andrea Schröder from the Career Service at the University of Münster.

Gita reading a brochure © Horschig/DAAD
Gita reading a brochure . © Horschig/DAAD

At the fair

Gita wants to collect some general information first. Right next to the main entrance, we see the marketing stand for the city of Münster. The Indonesian student doesn't waste any time; she immediately approaches a representative and asks what "city marketing" exactly involves. While marketing director Matthias Schmidt hands her a brochure, he mentions that he's offering internships to students. She tells him what she studies and that she is looking for an internship, and with that, Matthias Schmidt's business card changes hands. "Send me an e-mail," he tells her. Gita is happy - she's taken her first step to getting an internship. "That personal contact at the fair is the first application. If you succeed in impressing the representative, you're already half-way there," explains Anja Döring from Armacell Personal Services , who, together with a colleague, offers application coaching to visitors at the fair.

In workshops like these, you are shown what a good application portfolio looks like from the point of view of Human Resource (HR) personnel. You should take advantage of this opportunity, especially because the documents included in applications in Germany differ from those in other countries. And who knows that better than the people who process piles of applications every day? Not only do you learn what materials belong in a portfolio, but also what you should keep in mind when planning your career. "Think about what you want to achieve with your studies. You might not have an answer to that immediately, and during exams, your head is full of other things," says Ulrich Mihatsch, who works in HR development at the Nagel Group.

Follow-up work

If you spoke to a company representative about your interest in applying, make sure to send them your documents within the following two to three days. Also remember to thank them for the friendly advice they gave you at the fair.

"It was a long and exhausting day, but it was worth it," Gita says. The fair was an ideal opportunity for her to learn more about potential employers. Since then, she regularly checks whether the companies she was interested in are advertising job vacancies. And she's set to complete an internship in city marketing during the semester break this summer.

Tips

  • Dress appropriately - no flip-flops or miniskirts!
  • Spit out your chewing gum before you speak with the representatives.
  • Don't hesitate to approach a company rep and start a conversation.
  • Before you go, collect information about the companies you're interested in. Take along a short version of your application (cover letter and CV) and express interest in what they have to say.
  • Leave your family and children at home if possible.