How to successfully engage students at a career fair

Carley McDougallBlogs

Thousands of prospective students all in one place – a career fair is a perfect place to connect with potential students in a casual and accessible manner. But in a sea of booths all vying for the same students’ attention, how do you create an impactful connection?

Campus Manitoba has participated in dozens of career and education fairs throughout Manitoba. We know convincing students to talk about their futures isn’t always easy. “So many students come to career fairs without knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and they don’t know where or how to start looking,” explains Carley McDougall, special projects coordinator at Campus Manitoba. “Connecting with these students can be challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding for both the students and your organization.”

Over the years we’ve developed a few tried, tested and true ways to encourage better engagement from students at career fairs. Here are our top three tips to help your student-outreach team generate the results you’re looking for, and to get your prospective students more excited to discuss their future.

Top 3 ways to get higher engagement from students at a career fair

Career fairs are the perfect place to connect with potential students.

1. Create an attractive booth display with interesting marketing materials:

With so much to see in a limited amount of time, students are often moving through the rows of booths very quickly. A nearly bare table with little information displayed will most likely be skipped over entirely. Ensure that students will want to stop at your table by developing an eye-catching booth design, a variety of brochures and easy-to-read information on your top-selling points.

2. Develop a strong elevator pitch:

Once you’ve caught a student’s eye with your engaging display, how do you convince them to stay and talk? If you want to hold them at your booth beyond a brief “hello”, you need to have a strong elevator pitch about your organization. An elevator pitch is a 30- to 60-second answer to the question, “What do you do?” It’s an opportunity to give someone a quick summary of your organization and its value proposition in a way that will hopefully spark their interest and lead to a deeper conversation.

3. Collect students’ information to continue the conversation:

Before your prospective students move on to the next booth, make sure you capture their email. That way you can send them additional information to continue to learn about your organization. The easiest way to do this is to have a digital form on a tablet that allows them to automatically register for further communications. Otherwise, use a paper sign-up sheet that you would then manually enter into your database after the event.

Career fairs are an excellent opportunity for meeting prospective students, and if you follow our suggestions, we’re certain that you’ll find it easier to get higher engagement at these events.


Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public universities and colleges. Through collaborative projects and shared services, we facilitate student mobility and expand access to post-secondary programs for students in Manitoba. In addition to campusmanitoba.ca, our websites include ecoursesmb.casetyourcourse.ca, and openedmb.ca.