3 Steps to Hosting a Successful Career Fair [Episode 116]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

Are you interested in hosting a career fair at your high school and wondering where to begin? That’s similar to the position I was in as a school counselor. There hadn’t been a career fair at my school in many years, but I decided to pitch the idea to help with career readiness efforts for students.
Career fairs can be an incredible way to reach many students at once and open doors and career opportunities for them. They can also tremendously impact your students’ lives, expose them to careers they may never know about, and teach them about people already in those careers.
In this episode, I’m sharing how you can start hosting career fairs in your high school, the most critical steps to take to set your event up for success, how to define the success of the career fair, how to make sure the event is interactive for the students and speakers and the pros and cons of hosting an in-person vs. virtual event.

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • The importance of having support when hosting a career fair
  • Setting the date before doing anything else
  • How to set goals to measure the success of the career fair
  • The value of getting the community involved
  • Ideas for hosting in-person vs. virtual career fairs
  • How to create variety in the career options

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

It’s time to celebrate high school counselors and I need your help. I want you to share something you’re proud of this year, so that we can all give you a big congrats, a good job, a virtual pat on the back. We all need that sort of encouragement sometimes, right? Let’s put it on the podcast.

I don’t care if it’s big or small, if you could classify this as surviving or thriving, let us know what this was and why it was such a big deal to you. Submitting your celebration is easy, go to counselorclique.com/celebrateyourwins to leave your voice memo of what we can help you celebrate.

Leave that quick note telling us your name and that thing that we’re going to help you celebrate, and you’ll be featured on an upcoming episode of High School Counseling Conversations.

Have you ever hosted a career fair? Maybe you have, but you’re listening to this episode hoping to get some tips to make it better? Or maybe it hasn’t been done at your school before. So you’re wondering where the heck do I even start? That’s sort of the position I was in when I pitched a career fair at my high school.

There had been one done years and years before, no one who helped organize it really was there anymore, or had any tips or strategies to pass along to me. But I felt like we owed it to our students to have one.

If I’m remembering correctly too, we incorporated career readiness and career awareness into our three annual SMART goals, which held us accountable to putting it on the calendar and getting a career fair done. When we decided as a department that we were going to ramp up our career services, adding a career fair felt like a no brainer way to reach a lot of students at once.

We knew we wanted to provide career readiness resources and experiences to our students to expose them to new careers and actually allow them to connect in real time with those people whose jobs they were interested in. Remember, you have so much power as a high school counselor to open doors and opportunities for your students.

You can bring someone to your school’s campus to share their experiences with a student and I don’t want you to take that for granted. What a gift to give a student an opportunity like that.

Let’s dive into this week’s episode where I’m going to give you three steps to host a successful and fun career fair.

You got into this profession to make a difference in your students lives, but you’re spread thin by all the things that keep getting added to your to do list. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can invite you into my Counselor Clique where you’ll finally catch your breath.

Come with me as we unpack creative ideas and effective strategies that will help you be the counselor who leaves a lifelong impact on your students. I’m Lauren Tingle, your high school counseling hype girl, here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job.

First things first, you cannot do this thing alone. Putting on a school wide or at least school accessible career fair is a huge undertaking. You very well might be presenting this idea to your department or greater school leadership team and they don’t find value in it or they see the value but they don’t care to help with it.

Don’t get discouraged. Find one person at least who you can co-chair this thing with. You’ve got to have someone on board with you and the more the merrier. You’ll want to start early enough that you’re not stressed out getting all the details in place.

But when at least two of you are working together, you can make some quick progress on the logistics. The first thing I want you to do, logistically speaking is put a date on the calendar, everything is going to stem from this, your timeline for getting it done the exact time and location for the event, the community volunteers who are going to show up, they all need a date to do that.

So pick your date around your school’s events, holidays and availability of the space in your school to host this thing. I’ve always done it in the spring. But this doesn’t mean you can’t do it in the fall or fall and spring.

I’ve also tried switching off with a mindfulness day or something like that, like a social emotional wellness day, every other year. You have total freedom here, especially if it’s never been done in your school before. You get to decide when it is how often you host one if you do it in person or virtually.

My first thought when I decided to set out on this mission was anything will be better than it was before because it was non existent before so my bar was set really low, if that encourages you at all.

If the bar is set really low, you’re gonna even exceed your own expectations. So let’s get moving. Let’s move on to our next step. Dream big. Like I mentioned before, you may have a mix of skeptics or believers in your building either waiting to see you mess up or not wanting to take any ownership in a large scale project like a career fair, and that’s okay.

They can’t keep you from dreaming big. Brainstorm with your team, set some goals. How will you decide if the career fair that you host is ultimately a success? Do you want to reach a certain amount of students with your career fair? Like check, this many students came through the doors and we gave this opportunity to X number of students.

Do you want a certain amount of career groupings or clusters represented at your fair? Or is your goal simply just to make it happen because you’ve never done something like this before. I think any of these are acceptable goals to set and I’m sure you have others that are coming to your mind to. Write those down, put them somewhere where you can reference them and then revisit them.

Interested in getting classroom lessons on your docket, but really not sure where to start? I’ve curated a podcast playlist just for you jam packed with tips and strategies on all things classroom lessons. When you listen to this playlist, you’ll hear about things like maximizing your reach using classroom lessons, social emotional learning in the classroom, establishing relationships using your classroom time, and building your confidence in your classroom management.

Grab the Classroom Lessons Playlist by going to counselorclique.com/classroomplaylist and save it to your Spotify today.

The next piece of the dreaming big puzzle, you need the community involvement to make this happen. It’s time to reach out to parents of your students, connect with alumni, look for professionals in the community. Share your needs on social media and get others to reshare it.

Send lots of mass emails to the people who are paying attention, keep things fun and interesting. Communicate with your career speakers that you want to capture a student’s interest and attention and point them to unique careers that they never dreamed of.

If you’re hosting an event in person, can you bring cars to the campus to show them about automotive engineering? Can a photographer set up a photo booth? Can a physical therapist bring in their stretching and balancing equipment to demonstrate their practice?

Think interactive and you’re going to have to tell the speakers that they need to be interactive too. Because they’re going to be bored if no one’s coming up to their booth. And then students are going to be bored and not attracted to their booth or their stand if there’s nothing really to show for it.

With a virtual event variety and follow up are key. You may find yourself receiving a lot of videos about one career cluster. For me it with cosmetologist and similar human services type careers. I got so many of those when I reached out to people.

Each of these speakers might have their own unique spin. But if you’re not intentional about the people in the careers you seek out, you may end up with a lot of one type of career just based on the volunteers who are showing up and saying that they’re interested in participating.

Don’t give up if you feel like you’re not getting the responses or the involvement you hoped for. Reach out and connect with your stakeholders personally, encourage them to sign up or record that video if it’s virtual.

Many of my videos for my virtual career fair came in on the last day I set as the deadline people are always reluctant to be on camera I have found.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to put together a virtual career fair, I’ll link a blog post in the shownotes with some resources that can help you there. The planning has similar vibes honestly and may take more time to track down people and follow up with them to get the videos in place and everything.

But it was a great alternative for us during pandemic times. I know many of you are online or virtual counselors who might want a video bank of careers to show your students and pull from.

There are lots of advantages to hosting a virtual career fair. So again, I’ll link that in the show notes for you and give you some templates to get you started on that.

I hope this episode was helpful in getting your wheels turning about how to host a career fair on your campus. I know it is a very daunting experience to put on your calendar or a goal to set for the year.

But again, remember, if you set the bar low if it hasn’t been done before, you’re only going to be better than something that was not existed before. So I’d encourage you to try it. Start the planning. Get some people on board, get your teachers excited because this is a great opportunity to put out in front of your students.

They will have fun and they will thank you later, it will be a memorable experience for them. Remember to leave your celebration voice memo at counselorclique.com/celebrateyourwins or jump into the show notes and just hit that link. We got to hear from you to celebrate with you, head there now. I can’t wait for episode 121 to come out so that we can party on down with you.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of High School Counseling Conversations. All the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at counselorclique.com/podcast.

Be sure to hit follow wherever you listen to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram. Feel free to send me a DM @counselorclique. That’s CLIQUE. I’ll see you next week.

Connect with Lauren:

Cheers + Happy Listening!

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