Hosting a career fair can feel intimidating and scary… so you might be tempted to never host one. Think of all of the amazing careers your students may miss out on without this opportunity! As high school counselors, we want to provide career readiness resources and experiences to our students to expose them to new careers that they’ve never heard of or give them opportunities to connect with people in careers they’re interested in.
We are in a unique position to empower our students’ futures! Here are 3 simple steps to hosting a successful career fair virtually or in person!
1- Commit to a date for your career fair.
Pick a date for your career fair and add it to the calendar. This is your first step to ensure that a large-scale event like this actually happens. If you don’t see it on your calendar, you will never feel the urgency to get it done!
If you’re choosing an in-person event, go ahead and reserve that space on your school’s event calendar and find a location in the school to hold it. You cannot decide to host an event this size at the last minute and expect to find real estate in your school to facilitate this.
In my personal experience, I’ve always chosen to host a career fair in the spring. When I look at the calendar as a whole, fall always seemed to soon to get the planning moving, and spring gave me a bit more flexibility. It also brought a jolt of energy to the school counseling program and to our students’ motivation as we neared the end of the school year!
2- Dream big for your career fair.
Brainstorm with your team. Set some goals. Do you want to reach a certain amount of students with your career fair? Do you want a certain amount of career clusters represented at your fair? Do you just want to make it happen because you’ve never done something like this at your school before?
Reach out to parents of your students, connect with alumni, look for professionals in the community, share your needs on social media. Keep things fun and interesting.
Communicate with your career speakers that you want to capture students’ interests 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 campus to show them 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!
With a virtual event, variety and follow-up are key. You may find yourself receiving a lot of videos in one career cluster. (For me, it was cosmetologists and other similar “human services” careers!) Each of these speakers may have their own unique spin, but… if you’re not intentional about the people and careers you seek out, you may end up with a lot of one type of career!
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 the video. (MANY of my videos for the virtual career fair came in on the last day I set as the deadline. People are always reluctant to be on camera!)
3- Let each team member own a piece of the career fair.
List out the tasks that need to get done for your career fair. Let your team pick the things that they know they can do well, and let them do those things! It’s a learning experience for everyone. Stay organized throughout the process by keeping a comprehensive to-do list and a timeline. Divide up the responsibilities, and check back in with your team as you get closer to your event.
You CAN, in fact, host a successful in-person or virtual career fair even if you’ve never done it before! It is a huge undertaking, but it’s so rewarding to see students engage, grow, and learn about career readiness in tangible ways that they haven’t before!
Take some stress out of the details of your event. Download my free, editable templates for your email, social media, and Google form communication for your entire virtual career fair event!