NYC Startup Job Fair Part 3

Instagram Moo Business Cards

My business cards — thanks Moo!

Unemployed techies traveled far and wide to come the startup job fair that took place last Friday. The event was packed. I arrived at 2:30 on the dot with my cute business cards (see above) and I still had to wait in line for a half an hour in the pouring rain. I admit, I was not prepared for the terrible weather. But it encouraged small chatter as I shared an umbrella with someone waiting in line. I’m sending many thanks to the person who talked to me — it helped get rid of the butterflies in my stomach and kept me calm and cool for those first few moments of the event!

If you REALLY want to know what it was like to be there, I added some key highlights to my Storify account— check out some of the tweets, photos, and headlines from the attendees and startups! In the meantime, I wanted to share a few valuable lessons that I personally took away from the fair:

Vary your pitch. Did I have a pitch? Absolutely. I even took an extra hour to practice it at a nearby coffee shop. My biggest mistake was that I assumed my one pitch would be fine. In reality, not every startup is looking for the same person nor will any representative of the organization respond in the same way. Varying my pitch would have helped in creating different conversations. For the future, a few pitch alternatives will go a long way.

Walk with a purpose. With close to 1,000 attendees, the space was cramped. Like, really cramped. Aside from constantly being in people’s faces, I’m pretty sure I stepped on a few random toes. I also did not plan where to go and found myself making eye contact with the same reps. Walking with a purpose not only would have ensured that I used my time wisely, it would have also reduced my chances of bumping into the exact same person I just spoke to. Less awkward moments = better, more badass moments.

Woman Walking

Don’t be a chatterbox. I think I may have over-prepped. At times, I felt like I couldn’t stop talking and asking questions. Most of the people at the tables had been there for hours, probably answering the exact same questions over and over again. Next time, I’ll make sure to be concise and keep it simple.

Ask a question. It’s not that I didn’t ask questions– I most certainly did. I just didn’t ask questions when I should have. My timing was off. After my pitch, a smooth transition could have been made by asking a question. A few times, I stopped talking after I explained who I was and then there would be an awkward pause. Again, awkwardness is not my thing. If I had asked a question, the conversation would have flowed much better.

Get on social. I was surprised at the lack of tweeting at the event. I am an obsessive Twitter user and even I forgot to tweet! While I certainly shouldn’t have been in a corner staring at  my phone, taking a small break to tweet out interesting parts of an conversation would have (in my opinion) been very beneficial.

Twitter Fail Whale

(Source: Ivan Lanin)

Overall, it was a wonderful job fair and an even better learning experience. I can’t wait to do it again (this time with more practice) in the spring!

What do you think? Anything else that could be added to my list of tips?


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