Preparing for professional conversations

11 February 2021

Let’s talk about the upcoming Work Experience & Placement Fair (17th Feb- Register!).

This is an online event (obviously!) with 50+ employers and their recruitment teams keen to speak to students from Year 1 and 2. So before we even talk about preparing for the event itself you need to be clear that these employers are attending this event to speak to you. Their recruitment teams are competing for you and that is a good thing.

So the title of this blog post is ‘Preparing for professional conversations’ and even that title is something I feel over-formalises this opportunity. We are all feeling varying levels of anxiety right now and what I don’t want to do is make you feel more pressure. I want to give you some clear and positive advice on how you can prepare to get the most of the conversations you have at the fair, and many of them will relate to other professional conversations. So here we go:

1. Prepare for short but focused conversations

To go into a planned professional conversation with no preparation is not going to work in any context. This doesn’t mean you need to do hours of research. It means you do need to know about the company, what they offer and have some objectives around what it is you want to know. In addition you need to be ready to talk a bit about yourself. Yes, that topic can seem most uncomfortable but just prepare to do it, it gets easier (and we can help). What do you study, what are you interested in (in terms of careers), what is your work experience, what are you looking for in an opportunity. Thinking about those types of questions means you will be ready to talk to an employer about yourself.

2. Sound, angle and background

This is as much about what not to do. Prepare like you would for an interview. This means making sure that your sound quality is good. Use a headset or earphones but avoid just using the in-built sound/audio in your laptop if at all possible. Also try and get the level of your monitor/laptop level with your head and shoulders. Even set it on a pile of books if you need to! And with your background, be conscious of it. Unmade beds and messy backgrounds are not professional so clear and tidy is best. Everyone is going mad for bookcases in a background but don’t stress about that.

3. Mindset is key

Even though I have given you a few practical and common sense tips here the most important thing is your mindset. Treat this event like a positive opportunity. Will you get a placement or internship out of it? Maybe. Will you find out more about possible careers and start to see a brighter future career post-pandemic? Yes you will.

For me the most important outcome of this event is that you feel more connected with your future. You hear a lot about the things you need to do or the things you should do. Get placement, get experience, get new skills and all the rest. There is no doubt that experience counts and you do need to continually develop, like we all do.

BUT, the most important part of this is YOU. How you feel, what you want, what you need help with. And honestly if you just want a chat about your options, placement, work experience then we are here to help, Just contact us and I'm sure you'll not only feel better but you'll have clearer actions as a result.

Employability & Careers are here to help you so if you have any questions AT ALL about the fair or anything else career related please just get in touch by emailing careers@ulster.ac.uk