Tips for Preparing for and Navigating the Social Justice Career Fair


Research the Organizations

To get an understanding of the employers you find interesting, review the organizations’ website. See more tips at:

Update Your Résumé

Depending on the type of career fair, tailor the résumé to show focus in that industry by highlighting relevant courses and experiences that best showcase transferrable skills. When attending a career fair focused on labor, advocacy, or nonprofits, if you do not have work or volunteer experience in related areas, consider adding an objective to state your interest. If you haven’t already done so, get your résumé critiqued by staff in ILR Career Services; come to walk-in hours or schedule an appointment by stopping by 201 Ives or calling 607-255-7816.  Bring 15-20 copies with you to the fair, preferably on résumé paper. For more résumé tips:

Prepare Your Elevator Speech/Intro

Consider that you are in the elevator with an employer. You have 1-2 minutes to let them know who you are and what you want.  Include your name, class year, major, career interests, and why you are interested in them.


Please wear business casual attire—dress slacks, khakis, nice skirt, and dress shirt/tie or a blouse.  A sport jacket or suit coat is a nice touch, if you have one.  You may also wear a suit.

Approaching the Recruiters

Pick up copies of the map and directory of participating organizations from the registration table.  The directory will provide organization descriptions and background information to prepare you before you approach the representatives.  The map will show where each organization is located.

Bring your résumé and be prepared to introduce yourself and talk about your academic interests and activities.  Come prepared with some questions to ask the various representatives (see sample list below). It will help you learn more about the organizations and what they have to offer.  Ask for contact information if you wish to follow up on opportunities and/or to send thank-you notes.

Make eye contact, have a firm but not crushing handshake, and introduce yourself using the brief Elevator Speech mentioned above.  Be sure to pause so the exchange is more of a discussion/conversation vs. a monologue.  Listen intently to their response and follow up with some selected questions.  The following are examples of questions you might want to ask.  Use these as a starting point for thinking about what you want to learn about employers.  Be sure to review Handshake and the directory (received at the Career Fair) to help guide your conversation.

  • What entry-level career opportunities does your organization have for bachelor’s (or master’s) degree candidates?
  • I am interested in gaining experience in the labor movement.  What kinds of summer experiences do you offer?
  • As a [freshman/sophomore], what types of experiences would you recommend I engage in to be more marketable to your organization for internships next year?
  • What elective courses would you recommend I take if I wish to pursue a role in . . .?
  • Would you describe some of your current campaigns? 
  • What training opportunities are available for employees?  Are there opportunities for cross-functional training?  What about opportunities for professional development?
  • Would you describe the career paths of other college hires?
  • How does this organization manage diversity in the workplace?
  • How would you describe a typical work day/week?
  • Have there been any recent mergers affecting your organization? 
  • What are some of your current challenges?
  • What do you like most about working at your organization?


Make sure you follow up

Be sure to send an email to the recruiter(s) expressing your interest in the position and how your background and skills will contribute to their organization. Try to personalize each email by referring to a key point that might have been unique to you.