Michele Plante, Coordinator of Career Services for the College of Fine and Applied Arts at U of I, spoke with students in Engl 199: Internship Seminar this week about how to prepare for the upcoming Chicago Arts and Culture Career Fair on February 5, 2016 from 12 to 2pm. Here are some of the tips she had to offer:
What should you wear?
Different career fairs follow different practices, so it’s generally a good idea to know your audience when you’re deciding what to wear to such an event. While you’d want to bring out your nicest black suit to attend the Business Career Fair on campus, you’ll want to leave it at home when you go to the Arts and Culture Career Fair. Women attending the Arts and Culture Career Fair should wear a blouse and nice skirt or a dress (that goes at least to your knees); comfortable, professionally appropriate shoes (flats or dressy boots); and possibly a memorable, colorful accessory, like a scarf. Men in attendance should wear a jacket and nice pants, but a tie isn’t necessary.
What should you bring?
You’ll want to bring 2-3 résumés for every organization you’re interested in talking with. Your U of I student ID is also required.
What kinds of questions should you ask employers at the career fair?
The worst question you can ask at a career fair is “Can you tell me a little about your organization?” This question will show you haven’t done any research about the organization in advance and will make you look uninterested. To avoid making such a gaffe, take some time over winter break to research the organizations who will be attending the event: Google them, visit their website, check out their social media pages, read articles promoting events they’ve put on. As you conduct your research, look for specific aspects of the company that are of particular interest to you, and take notes! When you talk to the employer, it’s a good idea to ask them about specific projects of theirs that you found exciting or about ways their organization’s values align with your own. It’s also important that you help the recruiters carry the conversation—be prepared to tell them what you can contribute to the company, such as social media skills, grant writing experience, or talent in fundraising.
Should I limit my conversations to be polite to other attendees?
In short, no. “The longer the conversation, the better,” Plante explained. Longer conversations will enable you to develop a stronger connection to the organization, which will make you more memorable and may even lead to a job offer. Leave it up to the recruiter to end the conversation, and as it’s ending, ask for the employer’s business card. It’s a good idea to follow up with employers by sending a handwritten note or an email to thank them for talking with you.
What employers will be at the Arts and Culture Career Fair?
So far, the following employers and arts organizations have agreed to attend the career fair: The Ravinia Steans Music Institute, The Windish Agency, The National Flute Association, The Arts of Life, Artemisia Theatre, 826chi, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Arts Alliance Illinois, The Zhou B Art Center, and Woman Made Gallery. Since the fair is still 2 months away, we expect a number of others to participate, as well. You can stay up-to-date as additional employers agree to attend the career fair by joining the “U of I Arts & Culture Career Fair on the Chicago Campus” event on Facebook.
If you’re planning to attend, you’ll need to register for the event ahead of time at https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/4544905. Hate driving in February? You won’t need to! A bus will be available for UIUC students to travel to and from the event. Because space on the bus is limited, you’ll want to reserve your spot early by bringing a $25 check made out to the University of Illinois to 116 Architecture at 608 E. Lorado Taft Dr.
We hope to see you there!