Every weekend, Yangon is packed with career networking events. They are not strictly job recruitment fairs where you can submit your CVs at the company booths, have brief pre-assessment interviews, and wait for their offer in the next few weeks. Many of these events are creatively structured, featuring an esteemed Panel of academic and business leaders in the industry, exclusive engagements with prolific Speakers, and interactive workshop sessions for the attendees.
They are primarily organized by proactive young professionals who themselves bag an impressive resume under their sleeves. Just to name a few, below is a list of Myamar Career Fairs organised in the month of February 2018 alone:
- Career Networking Fair by CEBSD,
- Career Gallery by Wynee and YUMEC,
- Live the Dream Career Talk Series,
- Education USA University Fair by the U.S. Embassy,
- NIDA Education Road Show from Thailand
I had the opportunities to attend many of the aforementioned events and to network with the organizers. The events are not just for us to passively sit back and listen to the talks, but are also excellent platforms to build your professional network, expand your knowledge of the industry from like-minded peers, and enhance your career prospects. Based on my observations, here are the 7 great tips for you to get the best out of a Career Fair:
1. Prepare Your Profile Pitch and Keep it Concise
You may have been previously involved with many organizations and projects in the past, however, it is important to note that not all of the information is going to interest your audience (i.e. the person you choose to network with). Thus it is a better strategy to customise your engagements and personalise your conversations with the person whom you’re speaking with. It might also be useful to prepare 1-2 short sentences – that are relevant to the event and best describe your background – that can be used as your go-to conversation kick-starters. It is a simple yet very effective way to initiate the conversation without stumbling and form a solid professional image.
2. Do Your Homework
Always do a quick research of the Panel Speakers and their respective company profiles. Having proper knowledge of their background not only helps to have eloquent dialogues with those people, but also earns you confidence in approaching them in the first place.
3. The Panel Speakers are Potential Mentors
Keep in mind that despite the extremely tight schedule of those special guests, they are here for a reason. Their motives lie beyond giving a 30-min talk or a spending a few hours for a workshop; they are usually hoping to interact with the young talents as well. You can leverage this setting to learn more about their ventures, pitch yours and see if they could provide mentorship related to your career.
4. Network with the Organizers – See the Channels
To organize a large event with thousands of participants and to invite the hottest names in the industry to speak at the event is no easy task. The organizing team is such a resourceful and dedicated group of people, and you will be able learn from them on variety of matters, such as the career landscape within the country, event management techniques, and career application tips.
The organizers are normally occupied throughout the event, but you can always approach someone during lunch or coffee break, and see a rough sketch of their channels.
5. Be Ready to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Some activities at the event might be uncommon and appear intimidating for you, such as speed networking sessions, ice-breaking games, having a Q&A in public, and approaching the special guests. The truth is, everyone present at the event would be feeling equally nervous. You can should stop overthinking about how you might appeal to the others, and start distilling excitement from your nervousness – go grab the mic and shoot that question, go shake hands with those iconic business leaders and enjoy all those games however silly they may seem.
6. Acknowledge that it’s a Small World
You will learn after attending a few events that the group of proactive young talents in Myanmar is all within a tiny bubble, and there will always be familiar faces in the organizing team, the Panels or the participants. Cement your network with a handful of like-minded young professionals, and be rest assured that you will have exclusive access to valuable resources and build your network. Additionally, it is also important not to ‘burn the bridge’ under any circumstances as your reputation will be affected extensively across the industry.
7. Have a Unique Name Card
If you are not working full-time for a company, you can have your own personal card, or if you are still studying, you can put your academic background. Design your card to reflect your unique self and your organization; use a specific colour, design, texture, or you can be playful by making it transparent. The cards can be used to initiate conversations and to instantly recognize your personality.
The Time to Take Control of Your Own Career is Now
Whether you are looking for a job or preparing for further studies abroad, career fair is an ideal place to explore. It is good to be accompanied by a friend to participate, but never be reluctant to check it out all by yourself. You can utilize these 7 tips to maximize your networking potential with the prolific industry leaders and cultivate fluent conversations with your new friends at the event. Finally, it is crucial to have the right attitude in positioning yourself and to build lasting friendships with some of the brightest minds in the industry.
Disclaimer: This is an Opinion Article and it only reflects the views of the author and not the company or institution that may be associated with the Author. This article also does not have any intention to undermine or attack certain individuals or parties.
Written by: Phyo Thura Htay
Phyo is a Content Curator at Aseanite and a Central Executive at Yangon Technological University Students’ Union. He studied political economy at the University of Hong Kong and is interested in ASEAN affairs. He has interned for Schlumberger and Siam Cement Group as a chemical engineering student, and is a 2017 fellow of Young Sustainable Impact, a startup incubator based in Oslo.
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