Career & Internship Fairs

Career fairs are one of the most reliable, straightforward ways to meet with employers on campus. Even if you’re not quite ready to apply for a job, they can be a great way to practice your networking skills, chat with employers, and learn about potential job or internship opportunities. Learn more below about how to prepare before a fair, what to do at a fair, and how to follow up after a fair.

For an interactive way to identify and prepare for the essentials when attending a career fair, try our non-credit Career Fair Preparation Canvas module.

Start the Module

Upcoming Fairs

There are no upcoming events.

Your Career Fair Checklist

  1. Get your resume ready.
  2. Practice your introduction or “elevator pitch.”
  3. Research employers and prepare some questions.
  4. Choose your outfit or prepare your webcam setup for a virtual fair.
  5. Get some practice at Career Fair Prep Night, other events, or through an advising appointment.

Before a Career Fair

Before a fair happens, you should always plan, prepare, and have a strategy to make a great impression with employers. You should have your resume ready, prepare your introduction or “elevator pitch,” do some research on employers to prepare some questions, and have your outfit ready to go. We can help with all of that! Read on below for more detailed tips and advice.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Your Resume

Your resume is a representation of your skills and experiences on paper, and it should generally be tailored to the job or internship you’re applying for. At a career fair, however, it’s okay to have a general resume, since you may not be applying for a specific job while in attendance.

Having a resume is important for a career fair because it allows you to showcase your qualifications and experiences to potential employers in a professional and organized way. Employers at a career fair are often looking to fill open positions or find potential candidates for future opportunities, so having multiple copies of your resume printed and ready to hand out can be a great way to make a good first impression and stand out from other students.

Your resume can be used as a talking point when you introduce yourself, and it can be a useful tool for helping employers remember you and follow up with you after a career fair. Be sure to use your email on your resume, and always review your resume thoroughly (even better, get help from others!) to make sure it’s error-free.

Check out our resume resources here.

Introduction/"Elevator Pitch"

An introduction or “elevator pitch” is a short statement, about 30 seconds long, that summarizes your qualifications, experiences, and career goals in a way that is easy for someone else to understand. After you and the recruiter introduce yourselves, you can then start asking some questions!

Your introduction should include:

  • Your name
  • Your year in school
  • Your major
  • Why you’re interested in their company or organization
  • Why you would be a great employee

Your pitch should demonstrate that you’ve done some research on the company/organization and know something about them and/or the position you are interested in.

Having an elevator pitch is important at a career fair because it allows you to quickly and effectively communicate your value to potential employers in a short amount of time. Career fairs are often crowded and busy events, and having a polished elevator pitch can help you stand out and make a lasting impression on employers.

Here are a couple examples:

Example #1: “Hi, I’m Michelle Smith. I’m currently a senior Psychology major looking for program coordinationpositions at nonprofits. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work over the past few years, and I’m especiallyinterested in combining what I’ve learned in my major with the social service work I’ve done outside ofclass.”
Example #2: “Hi, my name is Sam Ward. I’m a junior computer science major and I’m really excited aboutcombining my interest in technology with my love for art. I’ve actually developed an interactive educationaltool to teach children how to draw. I’d love to explore internship opportunities with dynamic, creativesoftware companies like yours.”

Research employers

Researching employers and identifying your top choices before a career fair can help you make the most out of your time at the event.

One way to research an employer is to check out their information on the career fair page on Handshake, a company’s website, or read about its products or services, company culture, and current job openings. Additionally, it can be helpful to look for recent news articles or press releases about the company to learn about any recent developments or initiatives. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can also be a great way to research employers. Doing research will allow you to ask tailored questions, which shows that you are genuinely interested in the company.

Prepare some questions

It can feel a little uncomfortable walking up to recruiters and asking questions, but remember, recruiters are eager to talk to students like you and look forward to answering your questions!

Asking specific questions and engaging with employers at a career fair is an important step in making connections and standing out to them. When approaching an employer, it’s important to be confident, professional, and enthusiastic. A good way to start a conversation is by using your elevator pitch/introduction and expressing your interest in the company and the industry. During your conversation, it is important to actively listen, maintain eye contact, and ask follow-up questions based on their responses.

Finally, it’s important to remember that a career fair is not just an opportunity to ask questions, but to talk about your own qualifications and experiences, and how they align with the company’s needs and goals.


Here are some example questions you could ask:

Basic Questions (use these if you haven’t researched the organization ahead of time)

  • How long have you been at [fill in name of company/organization] and what keeps you there?
  • In your mind, what skills or attributes have past interns/new hires possessed that helped thembe successful in your company [or for a specific position]?
  • What does training look like for interns/new hires?
  • What are some examples of projects interns/new hires might work on? [Intern: over the courseof the internship; New hire: in their first 6 months or year]
  • What is your hiring timeline, and can you tell me a little bit about the different stages of yourhiring process?
  • If I have follow-up questions, can I follow up with you? If so, was it your preferred form ofcontact?

Next Level Questions (these assume you’ve researched the organization ahead of time)

  • [Ask specific questions about their open roles to gain clarity – avoid asking questions that couldbe answered in the position description]
  • I recently read an article about [event, announcement, or news related to company]. What wasit like to be a part of that? [Avoid negative news]
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion is very important to me. How do you support different identities?
  • How is performance evaluated and how often?
  • What is a typical career path for someone coming in at my level?
  • What important changes are occurring in your [company or industry] right now? How will theyaffect the career of someone like me just starting out?

Clothing / Your outfit

Attending a career fair in professional or business casual attire is important as it shows that you are taking the opportunity seriously.

Business casual attire typically includes a collared, button down shirt; a blouse; dress pants or khakis; a knee-length or longer skirt; and closed-toe shoes. Professional attire typically includes a suit or dress. Stick to solid colors, such as black, blue, or white with your clothing choices.

Avoid wearing clothing that is too casual or revealing. Examples of what not to wear include:

    • Your daily attire for classes
    • Your workout clothes
    • Your outfit when you go out with friends on the weekend

Employers are more likely to take you seriously if you are dressed professionally. Additionally, professional attire can also help boost your confidence and make you feel more prepared to speak to potential employers. Your culture, religion, and gender identity might influence your choice of business attire. We encourage you to incorporate those elements into your business wardrobe.

Need to upgrade your wardrobe? The SuccessWorks Career Closet provides L&S students with financial need up to four professional clothing items for FREE every semester! Learn more here.

At a Career Fair

From knowing how to greet employers to making sure you get the follow up information you need, here are some tips on how to make the most of the fair while you’re there.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Present Yourself Professionally

  • Introduce yourself, but don’t necessarily always go in for the handshake. Watch how the employer interacts with other students before you approach to see if they seem comfortable with a handshake or not.
  • Be knowledgeable about the organization and industry
  • Be able to explain why you are interested in working for them – show enthusiasm

Additional Tips

  • Ask thoughtful questions based on the research you did prior to the fair
  • Know your availability for the upcoming week in case the employer wants to schedule an interview
  • Ask recruiters for a business card or information on who to contact in the future
  • After talking to a recruiter, take a moment to write down a few key points to reference in your thank you email
  • Be selective with taking employer “free stuff”

Virtual Fairs: Have these items ready

  • Your resume (for you to reference when speaking with the employer)
  • Any info you have about the organization (for example, their website up on your computer)
  • Paper and pen to take any notes you need during the session
  • Notes to help you with your elevator pitch
  • A list of questions to ask the employer
  • A glass of water

After a Career Fair

Great work! You’ve finished attending a career fair. Now there are a few more things you should do to maximize the connections you just made.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Send a Follow Up Email

  • Send your email within 24-hours of the career fair (that night or next morning is preferable), as many recruiters attend a lot of fairs.
    • If you didn’t get the recruiter’s contact information at the fair, be sure to write down their name right afterwards.
    • Check Handshake to see if the recruiter’s contact information is listed.
    • If they aren’t on Handshake, with their name, it’s usually not difficult to find the recruiter’s email address and you can show great initiative by finding their email to send them a thank you note.
  • In the email, reference the UW-Madison career fair you participated in.
  • Include key points you may have discussed with the employer to remind them of your conversation.
  • Contact SuccessWorks (or your School/College career office if you need contact information for an employer representative who you spoke with at the fair).

Sample Follow Up Email

Dear (fill in name of recruiter here):

It was a pleasure speaking to you at the (fill in name of the career fair) at UW-Madison on (fill in date). I am very interested in your (fill in name of position) and enjoyed hearing from you what it’s like to work at (fill in name of company/organization). (Add in anything else related to your conversation as well as what they mentioned you need to do to continue through their process such as apply on-line, etc).

I appreciate your time and look forward to pursuing an opportunity at (fill in name of company/organization).

(fill in name)

Additional Tips for After a Fair

LinkedIn: Connect with recruiters and employers via LinkedIn. You will find that some recruiters want to connect with potential candidates. Be prepared that some will not though. In addition, be sure to follow a company’s LinkedIn page. LinkedIn provides a tremendous platform for connecting and sharing with potential colleagues. Follow this LinkedIn profile guide to make sure you’re before you connect with recruiters.

Twitter: Companies and organization are also effectively using this tool. Job seekers are making a huge mistake by not taking advantage of Twitter and following a potential employer’s Twitter feed. Many companies have a special account just for their career division and a number of recruiters have Twitter accounts themselves.

Cover Letters: Anytime you send a resume to a potential employer, you should include a cover letter. Follow up with recruiters after a career fair by re-sending your resume and cover letter. While many recruiters will tell you they never read cover letters, many actually do read them. Be sure to write the letter and tailor it to the specific position for which you are applying.

Other company representatives: Believe it or not, your employer meetings at career fairs can really pay off when reaching out to other representatives of the company. Use the story as part of the introduction in your cover letters, conversations, or interviews to highlight your effort in connecting with the employer.