Why graduate students should attend McMaster’s Fall Career Fair

Attending a career fair at any stage of your graduate studies journey can provide you with opportunities to build your network, learn about potential career paths and identify the key skills needed for success in your industry. Make the most of this chance to create long-term plans or explore opportunities for your upcoming graduation.  

September 15, 2023

By: Tanya Kett and Jared Kunar

Top reasons to attend Fall Career Fair as a graduate student 

Fall Career Fair is the largest recruitment event hosted on campus. This year, the fair features 120 employers who are interested in hiring McMaster students for part-time, full time, co-op, internship, contract, summer and volunteer roles, spanning industries like health care, environment, technology and more.  

We know it’s a busy time, and some people are more comfortable at these events than others, but here are some key reasons why you should attend. 

1. It’s a great way to explore careers and companies 

Use this opportunity to make connections and do some research with real people to learn about career paths, recruitment practices and company culture. Avoid judging whether a company relates to your area by the company name alone — it can be misleading because many large companies attend and have opportunities in other divisions. You can also use the opportunity to learn about career paths within companies and industries of interest. Not every company may seem like an ideal fit, but engaging with them can broaden your knowledge and help you practice your networking skills.  

2. Learn from recruiters how to leverage your graduate-level experience and skills  

Employer events like Fall Career Fair and company information sessions happening throughout the fall term (check the Events Calendar on OSCARplus) are an opportunity to have more conversations with employers and learn about the recruitment process directly from the source.  As a graduate student, you can learn which key skills are considered valuable and communicate them effectively to companies you’re interested in, even if the organization doesn’t have a specific job opening that matches your qualifications. Additionally, you can learn how application processes work, typical recruitment cycles and how to differentiate your application.   

3. Make a connection, build your network 

Attending in person allows you to make a personal connection and a professional first impression that recruiters will remember when they go through the applications received online. Employers want students to attend Fall Career Fair in person. Sure, they may also indicate an online application (it does save paper), but the real reason they are at the fair is to get a sense of the person behind the resume that is submitted online — you!  

The earlier you start to network and make connections, the more you will build along the way, and it will pay off in the future. Plus, it is much easier to have conversations, ask questions and network when there’s less pressure to find a job.  

Remember: It’s also important to follow up with your new contacts after the fair to solidify the connection. Read more about our After Career Fair tips

4. Learn about different work cultures and work environments that align with your values 

Career fairs are a great opportunity get to know company culture and work environments that align with your values and preferences. Whether your preference is a small–medium sized company, a large corporate organization, somewhere fast-paced, team-oriented or something else, consider what work environments interest you and keep that in mind during your conversations.  

If you’re still in doubt about attending, keep an open mind and consider stopping by for even a few minutes to get the feel for these types of events.  

There are often employers who get more traffic than others, so warm up by approaching an employer who is not talking to other students. Use the opportunity to ask questions about their career path and what attracted them to the company. Regardless of whether you’re interested, it’s a great way to build up your confidence and learn about someone else’s path. Plus, you never know where there might be similarities or who could lead you to your next job offer. Remember, most career paths aren’t linear, and connections play a key role in leading people on their career journey.