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How to Successfully Navigate a Virtual Career Fair as a College Student and Young Professional

As a college student or budding young professional, career fairs can seem intimidating and difficult to navigate. Don’t be nervous though. They are actually much easier to navigate than you think – particularly when you prepare in advance. This is true for both in-person and virtual career fairs. Check out the tips below to learn how to successfully navigate a career fair, as well as advice from Ford Motor Company, Cooper Standard, and Meritor, who will be at the Let’s Detroit Back to Michigan Virtual Career Fair on Nov. 22, from 4-6 p.m. 


Research the employers that will be present. The more you know about them, the better prepared you will be and the more confident you will feel talking with them. As you conduct your research, think of thoughtful questions to ask during your time with them. It will show employers you are interested, motivated, and can take initiative, thus making a great first impression. 

Tip from Ford Motor Company: Be prepared! Research the company and its open positions ahead of the career fair.  

Tip from Meritor: Research beforehand and look at the open positions for each company that is of interest. 


In a virtual format, you have a finite amount of time to make a lasting impression with a recruiter. Develop an elevator pitch about yourself. Who are you? What are your skills? What positions are you seeking? What can you bring to the company? This is your opportunity to stand out from a crowd of applicants. In fact, Ford Motor Company suggests you type out your elevator pitch or questions ahead of time so you can easily copy and paste. This is not to say that every session should be cookie-cutter – recruiters will be able to see through this. You’ll still want unique questions prepared for each company. Make the most out of the 10 minutes you have.  

Tip from Ford Motor Company: Have a short “elevator speech” typed up and ready to copy and paste into the chat, so candidates can quickly convey what they’re looking for.  

In addition to preparing your elevator pitch, prepare your resume and KNOW it. The better you know your resume, the easier it will be to reference specific experiences or scenarios.  

Tip from Cooper Standard: Ensure your resume is updated and formatted neatly.   


While we are living in a virtual world where oftentimes you can get away with wearing pajama bottoms, during a virtual career fair, you still want to convey as high a level of professionalism as you would at an in-person career fair. So, dust off your interview suit or outfit and dress to impress!  

Tip from Cooper Standard: Be sure to dress neatly and professionally.   


Double-check that your internet and computer are working prior to the event. You do not want to be in the middle of a great conversation with a potential employer and lose internet. On that note, if unexpected disturbances occur, try not to let it disrupt your vibe.  Employers know that in this virtual world, dogs are bound to bark unexpectedly and neighbors may be out mowing their lawn. Try not to let it fluster you. In fact, this will give employers an idea of how you handle stressful situations. 


Find a clean and quiet spot during the career fair. Employers will notice your background, therefore, try to choose a location with a professional background and minimal visual distractions. Identify a quiet space in your home away from potentially loud noises (i.e., the dishwasher or front door) and adjust the background. For example, if the only quiet space you have in your house has a poster in the background, take it down for the event. You want the employers to be focused on you and not your background. If you are unable to find a distraction-free area, blur your background if possible. 

Tip from Cooper Standard: Go to a quiet area and be sure your background is appropriate. 


The Brazen platform allows for written chat or video chat. Be prepared for both. When communicating via written chat, avoid using slang, emoticons, or acronyms. If you are asked to participate in a video chat with an employer, make sure to maintain eye contact, actively listen, and ask questions. This is a great opportunity to really show the employer your energy and personality.  


If the conversation is going well, take the initiative and request the representative’s contact information and ask how they would like you to follow up. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down notes or contact information. If you receive their contact information with follow-up instructions, make sure you follow through. Reach out the next day with a thank you note, and apply to the job that you discussed during the job fair. 

Tip from Cooper Standard: Be sure to apply to the jobs that you inquired about during the fair.  

Tip from Meritor: Ask to connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch for future opportunities.

Use these tips to prepare and find your dream job at the upcoming Let’s Detroit Back to Michigan Virtual Career Fair. Register here. 

Written by Jenny Orletski-Dehne, Let’s Detroit 

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