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Students view their resumes at the back of the room as others visit employer tables at the Career Fair at the Classic Center in Athens, Ga. on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. The Career Fair is an annual event that draws employers from all over the state to recruit students into jobs and internships. (Photo/Sidhartha C. Wakade, wakade98@gmail.com)

The University of Georgia’s Fall Career and Internship Fair is approaching this month, and it’s the perfect opportunity for students of all majors to sharpen their networking skills and get comfortable reaching out to prospective employers. It may seem pointless, but UGA’s Career Fair is a good opportunity to practice professional skills and learn about future career opportunities.

Admittedly, attending the career fair is nerve-racking. There are hundreds of students and employers crowding a room, and thinking about small talk and future jobs can be overwhelming. You could put it off semester after semester, but you’ll be unprepared for the job search process after you graduate. Start this semester, regardless of major or year. While the Career Fair may not get students a job offer, it’s the most important event college students can attend to sharpen their professional skills and sample different fields.

There are a plethora of career paths to take after graduation, and it can be overwhelming to decide what you want your job to be. Career Fairs can make this easier by offering students the perfect opportunity to talk to professionals in a variety of fields and learn more about their careers. If you’re not sure what you want to do after graduation, explore UGA’s Career Fair and reach out to the different professionals. Be prepared with questions and interests, and students will find they can receive useful advice from recruiters and other employees. Students might be surprised to find careers they never knew existed and find jobs they wish to pursue.

For those who are going in hopes of getting an internship or job offers, UGA’s Career Center can help prepare you. The Career Center’s website has useful information on how to prepare yourself for the job search process and even has a mock-interview service where students can schedule a mock interview with staff to practice. Preparing to make an appearance sharpens professionalism skills and will make attending the Career Fair less daunting.

Professionals at the Career Fair will look over resumes to form opinions of you, so make sure you take some time to build or update your resume. Your resume is an employer’s reference to what you have accomplished thus far. Building your resume is an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve done and what you wish to do in the foreseeable future. Use the Career Fair as a deadline to have an updated resume on hand. Having a strict cut-off date will ensure that you don’t keep putting your resume off, and it will help later down the road when applications and interviews open. A well-done resume will impress employers you may reach out to in the future.

Career Fairs are the ideal environment to improve your networking skills. Whether students like it or not, being able to network is vital during job hunting. According to a survey from LinkedIn, networking filled 85% of jobs. Not only does forming connections with other professionals help with landing job offers, but networking helps students build valuable relationships with other professionals, find new career opportunities and paths and strengthen self-confidence. It may seem awkward and uncomfortable to go up to unknown people and have conversations, but no one gets better without trying, so attend the Career Fair and sharpen up your conversational and networking skills.

Although going to the Career Fair can be stressful, it is an important step toward figuring out what you want to do in life. By going now, you can save yourself a lot of trouble down the road, so make sure to attend this semester’s Career Fair.

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