What to expect and how to prepare for internship fairs

What to expect and how to prepare for internship fairs

Taylor McMartin, Reporter

Sherry Fuller Bordewyk sits in the Office of Career Development, sifting through piles of promotional material awaiting final approval. 

Once the flyers and other information are complete, they will be distributed to hopeful college students ready to take the next step toward graduation. 

Getting an internship can be a daunting task for some students at South Dakota State University. But Bordewyk’s door is open for people looking to take the first leap toward exploring jobs and internship opportunities on and off-campus. 

Every year the Office of Career Development works with colleges and schools on campus to host career fairs. These fairs provide students with the exposure they need to build relationships with employers, as well as network in their field. 

Students who attend the fair are often exposed to job opportunities after college or a powerful reference for their next job. As the internship fair season kicks into high gear, here are some tips to remember when getting ready to pitch yourself to potential employers. 

How to Prepare

“We strongly believe that students should research before attending,” said Bordewyk, the director of Career Development. “They need to have a game plan because they are not going to be able to visit all the employers attending.”

By researching the company, you get to know what to ask when you arrive, said Erica Quam, a professional academic adviser for the School of Communication and Journalism. Handshake allows students to do just that.

Handshake is a platform for all SDSU students to connect them with employers. It also is home to hundreds of resources that students can use to create resumes and cover letters. They can also view upcoming events on campus and the employers that are attending, so students can start researching. 

“Students can stand out against their peers if you’ve done your research, and if you’re able to talk with them about their company and what you like about it,” said Bordewyk.

Another way to stand out from peers is by wearing proper attire. Bordewyk advises students to dress as if they were attending a scholarship banquet.

Roxanne Lucchesi, an advertising professor for the School of Communications and Journalism, tells students to bring printed resumes, a digital portfolio (if you have one) and a notepad and pen.

 “If you want to be a writer, showcase your writing. If you’re interested in strategy or project management, use a portfolio to demonstrate those skills,” said Lucchesi. “While a portfolio might not be necessary it’s a great talking piece.”

Once you Arrive

Companies and employers will be located all around the venue, and there will be a map provided that lays out where everyone is. Students should go over their game plan and start chatting with employers. 

“Ask about their company and what they have to offer,” said Quam. 

It is important to develop an elevator speech to let employers get to know you. A guide for doing that can be found on Handshake.

They want to know about campus involvement, leadership and work experience, said Bordewyk.

Lucchesi advises students to talk about who they are. 

“They are looking for a whole person,” she said. “Still, be professional, but show employers your personality and (give them) a chance to get to know the real you.” 

Why Should you Attend

Employers would not attend a career fair if they did not want to talk to students. They want to talk about what makes their business unique, Lucchesi says. She added that students should take advantage of it because once you graduate and get a job, those opportunities end. 

“You have two jobs while in school: get an education and prepare for the future after graduation,” Lucchesi said. 

Bordewyk said that job fairs are a great place to connect with employers and create a network of future internships and careers. First-year students should attend to build those relationships early to network with employers who will be back next year.

Campus career fairs help polish your interview and interpersonal skills and develop your elevator pitch and resume, Quam said. These events are an opportunity to put these skills into action and to find out if these internships are for you or not. 

“If (the internship) is not for you, that’s just as good as a win,” she adds. 


Quam on being prepared: “Use this time to prepare your resume, review and research companies and figure out if you’re interested. Perfect your elevator pitch and what you might ask.”

Bordewyk on using campus resources: “Attend resume blitzes and schedule appointments with our career coaches or come to drop-in hours.” Don’t wait until the last minute to get prepared.

Lucchesi says to view a career fair as an opportunity, not something you have to go to. “Take advantage of being a student while you still can.”

“We are very fortunate because our students are highly sought after by employers from all industries and employers that attend our fairs, whether on campus or virtual,” said Bordewyk. “And we just want students to understand that we do all this work to help them.” 


Upcoming Career Fairs

College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Science 

On-Campus: Oct. 6, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. | Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium

Virtual: Oct. 7, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. | Handshake

College of Pharmacy Recruitment Days

On-Campus: Oct. 13, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | Volstorff Ballroom, Student Union

Interview Day: Oct. 14, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Volstorff Ballroom, Student Union

Virtual Fair: Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | Zoom

Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering 

Virtual Fair: Oct. 18, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. | Handshake

On-campus Fair: Oct. 19, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. | Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium

Management, Economics & Communication

On-campus Fair: Nov. 3, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. | Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium

Virtual Fair: Thursday, Nov. 4, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. | Handshake


Questions About Career Fair?

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