Acing the Career Fair

More and more women are entering the engineering field. At the University of Cincinnati, the last three incoming classes of engineering students have had increasing ratios of women to men.

To engage with this growing population, the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science started the Women in Engineering Speaker Series, a panel presentation and discussion event that promotes self-empowerment within the professional and academic fields. The series addresses the needs of different student populations, including undergraduate, graduate and international students.

The first speaker series event of 2018 was Feb. 1 with the topic “Preparing for the Career Fair.” The program featured Ann Yanosik, a design engineer at General Electric Aviation and a graduate of UC’s

mechanical engineering program


Besides working as a design engineer, Yanosik served on the GE recruiting team for the last five years. At Thursday’s talk, she shared her experience meeting engineering students in this recruiting role. Below are some take-away tips from her talk to help students prepare for this week’s career fair.

Before the Fair

Preparing for the career fair will put students in the best position for success. Knowing the companies, looking the part and having confidence can all help with potential employers.

Pick the Top-5 Companies to Visit

With more than 180 companies in attendance, the career fair has too many options for students to hit them all. Be strategic, arrive early and know where to stop.

“Before you even go to the career fair, review a list of employers and pick your favorite,” Yanosik said. “Aim to go to those tables first.”

Prepare an Elevator Speech

After knowing where you want to go, figure out what you want to say.

“An elevator speech communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit an organization,” Yanosik said. “Use your elevator speech to introduce yourself to employers.”

As you are preparing your elevator speech, ask yourself, “What is the company known for? What majors do they hire? What are my unique experiences and skills? What am I seeking?”

Yanosik recommends rehearsing with a friend or in front of a mirror. It’s all about getting the speech to sound natural.

During the Fair

The career fair is your chance to stand out. Take all that preparation and put it into action.

Dress for Success

To stand out to a prospective company, you should look professional. Dress appropriately in business attire, smile, give a firm handshake and leave your backpack at home. Have your resume ready to hand directly to the company representative.

Impress with Your Resume

The resume might be an intimidating document, especially for first-year students who do not have much experience out in the professional field. But Yanosik said not to worry.

“You don’t have to have designed a bridge to have a good resume. Put something that makes you stand out,” she said. “A lead role in a play shows leadership and initiative – qualities we are looking for when hiring.”

The resume is your calling card and your way to differentiate from other students. It should be well organized and easy to read. Overall, it should be a snapshot of your talents and achievements. 

Deliver Your Elevator Speech

The elevator speech is your time to shine. Start with your name, major and interests. Do not be too nervous. After all, Yanosik said, these talks are a two-way street. The company is interviewing you, but you are also interviewing the company to find the right fit for you. Be confident and deliver your prepared pitch.

After the Fair

Leave a lasting impression after the career fair. Send a thank-you, and get ready for any potential interviews.

Follow-Up with the Companies

“Make sure you email to thank the company representative,” said Yanosik. “It really makes a good first impression that can lead to an interview down the road.”

Yanosik also gave pointers for the interview after the career fair, highlighting fine-tuning tips for resumes, potential interview questions and preparation for a behavioral-based interview. Afterward, she took questions from the audience, sharing her experience as a woman in the workplace.

“For women in the field, the opportunities are endless,” she said. “It’s what you know, what you bring to the table in terms of talent and how well you work with others. If you know your stuff and you are willing to take on leadership roles, you will stand out.”

Reflecting on her experiences at UC and GE, Yanosik added, “Co-op is great because you are there in the culture – you learn what the company is all about.”

So, as you prepare for the career fair, remember these tips. They might help you land that co-op that leads to your dream job after graduation.

The Women in Engineering Speaker Series provides an inclusive community for industry and university leaders to engage with students in discussions of leadership, diversity and communication. Through meaningful discourse and mentorship, students learn to advocate for themselves and their peers. Past topics have included navigating the workplace, engaging with industry leaders and taking ownership of career paths.