by Kristy Amburgey
“Now you know, and knowing is half the battle” is an oft repeated phrase, most often in jest, in our household. It came from the G.I. Joe cartoon that was great entertainment to a generation of young people several (ok, many) years ago. As often as it is used to laugh, there is great truth in the phrase. I am going to recommend that we all take this sentiment to heart and remember that knowing really is half the battle to achieving what we want. Specifically, this phrase is most apropos for the preparation for the Industry/Career Expo. What you know and how you prepare beforehand is equally as important as your presentation and representation abilities at the Expo. Knowing can be the difference between you having a successful event or feeling that the Expo was not for you.
Know what companies are coming to the Expo
Check out the list of companies attending the Expo [link to list], knowing that the attendee list will be revised all the way up to the day of the event. Instead of just glancing at the list, review the information available by clicking on the company names. You will find information that the companies have provided, including a list of targeted career focuses and experience levels.
Know what companies you want to target while at the Expo
As you find out what companies are attending, you should narrow down the large list and develop your own targeted company list. These companies should be the ones you are definitely seeking out at the Expo (although you may and should visit with other companies not on your list). Spend some time linking out to the company websites to research your list.
Know basic information about the companies
As you develop your targeted list of companies, you now need to gather basic knowledge about them. Find out what they do, what products they make/develop/impact, who their competitors are, where they are growing, their locations, what jobs are available and more. Most importantly, be prepared to answer, “Why are you interested in [Company Name]?”, which shows the company you did your homework and put some thought into matching your goals to the company.
Know your strengths and value to a company
Although there are qualities and skills (transferable skills) that any company values, you need to understand what your strengths are and how you might add value to a company. In addition, know how you are going to present the information to the company attendees and prepare what you want to say.
Know what you want to say to the companies
Before you talk to anyone, prepare and practice what you plan to say to the companies. Know how you are going to introduce yourself and have your 30-second pitch (or elevator speech) ready to use. At times, your pitch may turn into an actual conversation, so you want to be ready to show-off your communication abilities. In addition, you should have questions that you want to ask a company, questions developed specifically for that company that shows your interest and passion for the organization.
Know where and how you might fit into the company
This step is much harder, but you need to understand, as best as possible, where you fit into the company. A company values a candidate who can come up to them and share where or how they might fit into the organization instead of asking a question such as, “Do you have any jobs in X field?”
Know that your attitude, enthusiasm and professionalism matter
There are certain characteristics that companies tell us over and over again that they want to see at the Expo: a great attitude, enthusiasm and passion for the company/position/industry and professionalism. Hands-down, you should integrate all three of these approaches into your Expo repertoire.
Know that extra effort can pay off
Although all of the above points are important, know that it can be the few extra steps you take that make the best impressions. Dressing in your absolute most professional attire is imperative and required to enter the Industry/Career Expo. Customizing your resume for a specific company is a great approach to differentiating yourself from other candidates. Following up with a thank you email or note can leave a great impression.
The Industry/Career Expo is your chance to network, connect and impress the companies. Take the time to prepare and sort out all the information to ensure you are successfully interacting with the companies. Be prepared, be confident and mostly be in the know. As you may have heard, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.