My name is Siobhan, I’m a third year English student at Newcastle University and last week I worked at my first careers event.
The first thing I noticed was the bewildered looks on everyone’s face. I have been to my fair share of careers fairs and it can be overwhelming when you enter a huge hall filled with stalls and smiling faces. It was interesting being on the other side of that, as I knew exactly how they all felt: you have no idea where to start or what to ask. Approaching people and just starting up a conversation seemed to put them at ease and I wish more representatives had done that for me in the past.
It's all about listening, and responding
After a while, I got into the swing of things and the pitch became automatic: asking what they were studying, what job they were looking for, and showing them how easy it was to sign up. It wasn’t long before it became almost script-like. It was when I said the exact same thing to three different people that I realised I needed to make sure I changed it up and spoke to them on a case-by-case basis. Meeting students studying everything from marketing to politics to maths highlighted to me that they all have different needs. Some people were looking for placements, others had no idea what sector they hoped to go into. Although I knew everything mybrink has to offer and wanted to share that, some people only needed certain services.
Another thing that became apparent fairly quickly was that some people were just there for the freebies. Pens, sweets, tote bags… As long as it was free, they wanted it. They didn’t have any interest in what we were saying and just wanted to grab at the box of pens. Every careers fair has a group of blaggers and they’re not hard to spot. Blank faces and armfuls of stationary… No matter how good your company or your sales pitch, they don’t care. After spending far too much time chatting to two students who didn’t sign up, I learnt that you have to smile and let them crack on with their sweep.
One of the most frequently asked questions I got was if I used mybrink. A lot of people wanted to know more than just what it was and preferred to hear my personal view instead. I was surprised at how important it was for them to know that another student was using the website. As I am regularly on mybrink hunting for jobs, it was so much easier to be able to answer questions about how the site could help them.
The final learning curve was careers events are thirsty work! Talking for over five hours dehydrated me so much and I was gasping by the end. I forgot to drink for most of the day because I was caught up in talking to so many different people from different degrees; time flew by and before I knew it, we were packing up for the day.
Yes, it was tiring, but it was also fun. I loved meeting so many new faces and gaining the valuable experience of representing a professional company.
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