What is GRADFair?
Many career fairs emphasize undergraduate hiring. GRADFair is UChicago’s graduate student and postdoctoral-specific career fair, offering current students, alumni, and postdocs opportunities to meet with representatives from a diverse array of employers. This year’s GRADFair will have a focus on industry and business areas such as data science, finance, consulting, healthcare, and technology, and we’ll be debuting a brand-new event in 2021 that will focus specifically on career paths in nonprofits, government, policy, and social impact spaces. Employers who attend UChicagoGRAD’s events, including GRADFair, are interested specifically in the advanced training that graduate students and postdocs receive at the University of Chicago. GRADFair is a chance to connect one-on-one with representatives to learn how their organizations value the unique skills that graduate students and postdocs have, and to develop relationships with hiring managers who seek out those skills.
When and where is GRADFair?
GRADFair will take place on Thursday, October 15, 2020, from 3:30 to 7:00 pm Central Time. GRADFair will be held virtually this year, through Symplicity’s Virtual Career Fair platform, accessible directly via GRAD Gargoyle.
Do I need to RSVP? And what is the deal with the résumé books?
Students, alumni, and postdocs must RSVP to attend the virtual fair. Student registration will open approximately one month before the event, and can be found in GRAD Gargoyle under Events à Career Fairs. If you RSVP by October 8, you may opt to have your resume included in a resume book that will be distributed to employer representatives ahead of the fair. GRAD Gargoyle will automatically pull the resume that is listed as your default resume in the system, so please be sure the resume you want included in the book is designated at your default.
If you RSVP after October 8, you will still have the option to make your resume available for employers to access in your GRAD Gargoyle profile, but it will not be included in the resume book.
How can I prepare for GRADFair?
UChicagoGRAD hosts monthly resume workshops that are excellent preparation for GRADFair. An event specific to GRADFair, Prepping for GRADFair, will be held on Zoom on October 6 from 12:30-1:30 pm. You’ll hear about what to expect from a career fair, best practices for engaging with employers, and have a chance to ask questions. Please RSVP for this event in GRAD Gargoyle under GRAD Events. If you’re reading this page after the event has taken place and would like to request a recording of or slides from the presentation, please email Mike Tessel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We recommend that attendees research participating organizations before the fair (including searching LinkedIn for UChicago graduate alumni).
Who is GRADFair For?
Participating employers are interested in doctoral students, master’s students, recent graduates with Masters degrees or PhDs, and postdocs from across disciplines. This year’s GRADFair will be of most interest to students whose career goals lie in areas like data science, consulting, and technology, however employers will represent a range of sectors. Part of the purpose of the event is to demonstrate the diversity of places graduate students and postdocs can take the flexible training they receive throughout the course of their training. All are welcome to participate in this evolving conversation about the value and purpose of graduate degrees.
What employers are participating?
For an up-to-date list of participating employers, as well as information about job openings and what disciplines they are recruiting, please log into GRAD Gargoyle and navigate to Events > Career Fairs > GRADFair 2020.
What should attendees wear?
Even though the fair will be virtual this year, we recommend dressing professionally as you would for an in-person event. UChicagoGRAD recommends business professional dress, which includes suits. However, it’s important for attendees to feel comfortable in the clothes they’re wearing, and no one should feel they cannot attend in business casual or casual attire as well.
For a virtual fair, it’s also important to consider some things about general presentation during video meetings. We recommend sitting in front of a background that is as neutral as possible, or using a neutral and professional virtual background. Your background may include personal touches, but should not include anything that might distract the employer. In setting up your space, consider things such as the height of your computer (and propping it up on some books to make sure the camera is at your eye level), and the presence of natural light and how it might affect the space you are in.
Will employers hire me at GRADFair?
GRADFair is a chance to start conversations with people from employers that interest you, including HR professional, alumni, executives, and others. Attendees will very likely not come out of the event with a job offer, but the event is an opportunity for students and postdocs to make connections that will be valuable to them as they explore career tracks and apply for jobs in the future.
How long should I spend at GRADFair?
In past years, attendees were able to talk to a handful of employers of interest and feel comfortable departing after about one hour. While the virtual fair will not require attendees to wait in physical lines, there will be virtual queues. We recommend being efficient, starting early, and targeting several employers with which you’d like to engage in substantive conversations rather than expecting to spend three hours at the fair and speaking to each employer for a short time.
HOW CAN I SHARE MY résumé WITH EMPLOYERS IN A VIRTUAL SETTING?
Employers can receive your resume ahead of time if you RSVP in time to be included in the resume book. We also encourage you to include the resume you would carry with you at an in-person fair in your GRAD Gargoyle profile for employers to see. Because you’ll be unable to hand employer reps hard copies of your resume at an in-person fair, it’s especially important to have a polished, up-to-date version of your resume in your profile for this fair.
Should I follow up with EMPLOYERS?
Yes. Collect employer contact information, and be sure to send thank you notes after the event. A short email that recalls something specific from your conversation can be very useful.
I’m anxious. What do I do?
It’s natural to be anxious in this kind of setting. The stakes can feel high at a career fair, but it’s important to keep an even perspective about the potential outcomes. This is not a final opportunity to talk to employers; this is, in face, a great first opportunity. Keep an open mind and a clear set of reasonable expectations. These are important keys to feeling good at the end of GRADFair.