Opportunities to meet and speak with employers

Opportunities for students to meet directly with employers on campus should never be taken for granted! In the full employment economy, most organizations do not send representatives to college campuses, even if they do offer internships to students and entry-level employment for new graduates. The employers who do make campus visits are spending significant time, money, and human resources to do so, and they want return on that investment. They want to meet and speak with well-prepared students.

As a student seeking an internship or post-grad job, you don’t always have the opportunity for person-to-person contact in the job search process, until the interview stage. To be able to present yourself in person, instead of just being represented by your resume and cover letter, can help your cause! It can be difficult to stand out from the pack with your documents alone. Making a human connection is an opportunity. Don’t be intimidated! Do be prepared. Employer representatives are human beings too, and most of them have experience being in your shoes.

You can also take initiative to meet employers who are not visiting campus; one means is the informational interview, in which you are interviewing the individual to gather information to help you make career-related decisions.

Learn about all opportunities to meet employers, understand the purpose of each, and prepare to take advantage of those that match your career interests and qualifications. If you are still exploring, meeting and hearing directly from employers can build your knowledge about career opportunities.

For any job fair or career fair you consider attending:

  • Don’t just assume you’ll show up and wing it!
  • Never walk up to a representative and say, “what does your company do?” Do introduce yourself and state why you are interested in that organization. And remember they are not all “companies.”
  • Do research the details on the fair website and learn about the employers attending and their hiring needs. Know the dress code, and be ready.
  • If you don’t feel ready to attend a career fair, check into the possibility of volunteering. Most fairs need many student volunteers. Having a purpose at the fair, such as helping employers carry their materials or delivering water to employer booths, can help you experience the environment without pressure, and enable you to see employers as human beings.

More about preparing for job fairs and career fairs.

  • The Connection job fairs are held in October and February and are the only fairs that are sponsored by Career and Professional Development. 
  • We host these events to give opportunities to employers who are interested in students whose academic departments or colleges do not host a fair. 
  • Additionally, not all employers are able to attend the college- and department-hosted fairs, so some of those employers will attend a Connection fair. 
  • There is no guarantee that employers will be seeking every major on campus. In many career fields and industries, it is not the practice for employers to attend fairs because they find employees through other methods.

There are up to 15 job fairs and career fairs on the Virginia Tech campus each year. All but two are sponsored by colleges and academic departments, and are focused on employers who hire students in their majors. (The two Connection job fairs are sponsored by Career and Professional Development to give opportunities to employers who seek students whose colleges and departments do not host a fair.)

There are also off-campus fairs that are:

  • Career-focused, such as sports industry fairs.
  • Population-focused, such as LGBTQ career conference.
  • Location-focused, such as the VT alumni chapter-sponsored fairs in Richmond and the National Capital region.

If your department or college hosts fairs, research the details on the fair website and learn about the employers attending and what they are seeking in terms of major, academic level, and type of job. Know the dress code, and research employers in advance. Never walk up to a representative and say, “what does your company do?” Do introduce yourself and state why you are interested in that organization.

If you don’t feel ready to attend a career fair, check into the possibility of volunteering. Most fairs need many student volunteers. Having a purpose at the fair, such as helping employers carry their materials or delivering water to employer booths, can help you experience the environment without pressure, and enable you to see employers as human beings.

  • The On-Campus Interview (OCI) Program is separate and different from interviews that might occur as part of a career fair, often the day after the fair. 
  • Through the On-Campus Interview (OCI) Program, hundreds of employers schedule interview dates that occur throughout many weeks of both fall and spring semester. Students apply for these interviews by submitting your resume in advance and waiting to learn if you are selected by the employer for an interview. The application and sign-up process is done in Hokies4Hire.

Employer Information sessions are typically held by an employer the evening prior to the OCI program interview date. In the info session, the employer shares pertinent information with students in advance of the interview. This enables students to be better prepared for the interview, and enables the employer to focus more interview time on each individual student, instead of repeating the same information over and over to individual individuals.

If you have an interview, do go to the information session if at all possible. You’ll have a better interview as a result.

If you applied for an interview, and were not selected, but believe you are competitive, go to the info session with a professional appearance. Afterward speak with the recruiter. If you make a good impression the employer might be able to find a way to interview you, or at least reconsider you as a candidate.

If you are exploring career options, info sessions are a great opportunity to hear about work life directly from an organizational rep.

Information sessions are listed in Hokies4Hire.

Information interviews are initiated by you. The purpose of an informational interview is to learn more about a career field, industry, or employment setting and other information that may help you in your journey of career exploration and preparation. Informational interviews are arranged by you, by making a request to a person to speak by phone or in person. The purpose of an informational interview is not the same as a job interview. In an informational interview, you take the lead, and your purpose is to learn, not ask for a job.

More about arranging informational interviews, etiquette, and types of questions to ask.