It’s careers fair time (does it ever end?!) but don’t write those companies off just because they’re not “creative” or “too boring”. Go along and ask these questions because, hey, you never know… 

We spoke to Gemma Ludgate, head of the careers services for a number of colleges within the University of London (Heythrop College and The London School of Hygiene, to name but a few), for her killer questions to get the most out of a careers fair. Which means, for a start, not bypassing the “boring” companies. 

If you’ve got a specific creative role in mind, ask them how they manage that area of their business 

Many companies have a graphic design department, PR team, copywriting group but it’s all kept fairly hidden. Or, quite often, outsourced to other agencies. “Ask how they design their in-house publications. Do you employ designers? How do they brand the website? What about social media? Who designs the packaging?” suggests Gemma. So, if you love designing, writing or working with people, there may very well be a place for you – or they can provide you with the name of the agency they use. Who you can then go and badger for work experience. 

 

No idea what you want to do, but just want something creative? Work out how innovative they are.

“They might not have specific creative roles, but you might fancy working for a generally creative company,” says Gemma. “Ask them what their biggest innovation has been in the last year, and try figuring out if they’re taking steps to become more creative moving forward.” If they’re a big corporate brand, but they’ve started working on exciting new creative ad campaigns (for example) then this shows the tide may turn and, by the time you’re out of uni, there could be an exciting grad scheme just for you. 

Don’t ask anything that could be found on their website 

Careers fairs publish a list of companies who will be attending, so it’s worth Googling about for their grad schemes rather than saying things like “when’s the deadline for applying for that internship”. “You could find that information within five minutes of searching, so what that says is that you havent done your research. It implies you’re not really interested in them.” says Gemma. And sure, you might not be, you might never had heard of them until a few hours ago, but don’t make it so obvious.

Ask what sort of entry level jobs they tend to advertise

While grad schemes and entry level jobs come up on the site as and when, it may be worth checking out what they’ve advertised for in the past, to see if any of the roles interest you. “Entry level posts are harder to find information on- you could find some old adverts, and frame a question along the lines of: ‘I see you were recently advertising for [insert job] what other entry level posts do you tend to have outside of your grad schemes?’” Gemma adds that it’s also worth seeing if there are specific times of year that positions are likely to be advertised – although it is usually just as and when the business needs to hire.

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