InternTalk: How To Make the Most of the PRSSA National Conference Career Development Exhibition

After keeping a countdown leading up to the PRSSA 2015 National Conference and planning every professional outfit, you’re finally in Atlanta and ready to dazzle future employers at the Career Development Exhibition.

As a previous exhibition attendee, I know firsthand what it’s like to be in your shoes. I got together with Jenn Shafer, national vice president of Regional Conferences, and Gary Bridgens, national vice president of Chapter development, and compiled advice on how to make the most of your time at this year’s event.

Have a Game Plan

The Career Development Exhibition is a great time to make a one-on-one connection with hiring managers, but don’t expect to have a chance to meet everyone in the room. The list of  participating employers is already online here. Before exhibition day, take a look at all the organizations that will be attending and make a list of the top three employers with whom you’d like to speak. Doing a little research beforehand on their perspective websites focusing on internship programs or possible job openings will allow you to prepare smart questions and make a great first impression.

“The Career Development Exhibition is an exclusive opportunity for you to leave your mark and impress some of the nation’s top employers,” Bridgens said. “Standing out is easy when you’re well prepared and confident.”

imagesBring Supplementary Materials

Before coming to Conference, print out copies of your resume and make a set of business cards, if possible. These don’t have to be extravagant, but sharing your contact information will be very helpful throughout the whole Conference, and especially at the exhibition. Shafer recommends bringing  a pen and a notepad as well.

Being organized and having the right materials will make you feel more confident and relaxed, which should not be underestimated when talking to recruiters,” Shafer said.

Capitalize on the One-on-One Time

“You should have two main objectives going into the Career Development Exhibition — create relationships and learn as much as you can,” Bridgens said. “Be honest, direct and actively listen for opportunities to talk about your skill sets.”

By doing your research ahead of time, you use the one-on-one time you have with employers to network effectively and make a lasting impression. Engage employers with smart questions, leave a business card and ask if it would be appropriate to give him or her your resume.

“And as always, follow up with an email,” Bridgens said. “Recruiters speak with a lot of students in one day — give them a reason to remember you.”

If you are not attending National Conference this year, don’t worry. While we’ll certainly miss seeing you there, these tips are applicable to any career fair-style opportunity. And don’t forget about all of the other career development opportunities you have as PRSSA members. From connecting with a local PRSA Chapter to applying for positions on the Internship Center, there are many ways for you to network and stand out among other job and internship applicants.

Have any questions about the information in this article or want to learn more about PRSSA’s career development resources? Email Veronica Mingrone, national vice president of career services, at vmingrone.prssa@gmail.com.

How do you plan to stand out among your peers at National Conference?

“Intern Talk” is a guest column produced by Veronica Mingrone, 2015–2016 vice president of career services. The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the PRSSA Career Manual and Internship Center.

Veronica is a senior public relations major at the University of Florida. Follow Veronica on Twitter @veronica_min or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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