Entering the Real World? Tips for your first university or company visit- The Tech Partnership

Networking with employers is vital

By Sadaf Alvi at The Tech Partnership 

As we head into the autumn term, many of you will be invited to visit a college, university, company or attend events with a mix of university and companies. Most of you might be a little nervous and not knowing what to expect, for others it’s your first visit outside a school, ever. I’ve been talking to professionals, managers and tutors to let you in on a few small secrets that will help you leave a good impression on your visits.

Here are some great tips.

1. NO Selfies!

I know this one’s hard but if you are sitting in on a presentation or someone is giving you a tour, make sure your mobile phones are off. Any texts, calls, emails, selfies should wait after the formal bits are over.

2. Smart casual or business dress?

A company event will tell you if you should turn up in formal business clothes but smart casual is a safe bet if you are visiting a college/university. More tips about what to wear here.

3. Fashion

I love fashion, most employers like smart dress and I’m sure you do too but revealing clothes and club wear is a big ‘NO’. Lots of brands sell suits (especially if it’s an interview), trousers and dresses at affordable prices. Here are some of our recommendations: H&M, Topman and Newlook. You can try Asos and Zara if you want to spend more but don’t forget to check places for student discount.

4. Shoes

Don’t wear torn shoes, it puts people off.

5. Search it!

Whether it’s a college, university or company website, I’m sure you’ll check the homepage for information before you visit. But everyone does that. You need to go one step ahead and find out more about this place. Check the ‘News’ section of Google in case it’s been popular, check related websites, blogs and look into the sector. If it’s a course find out about it before hand, Student Room has some great tips. 

6. Think out of the box

Use your time wisely to avoid obvious conversations like “what does your company do?”, “does your university run societies?” Be specific and look for questions that are not covered in the literature or online.

7. Know your tech stuff

Have passion for your subject, career aspirations, knowledge of emerging hot topics, trends and future directions, this will impress companies and universities.

8. Why are you there?

Show your enthusiasm about being there. Click here to find out more about leaving a lasting impression.

9. Talk to people

Take an interest in other people you meet. Whether it’s a company or another student just like you, find out more about them and their role, this is ‘networking’.

10. Only 5 minute presentation

If you are asked to present, stick to the times. This is important, arrive on time too, just set up Google Maps on your phone if it helps.

11. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’

Get back to basics and be polite with everyone you meet.

12. Read the material

You will receive some information about what to expect from the day, read it and it will help think of more questions on the day.

It’s amazing how simple clothes and professional behaviour can have a long lasting impact on your future. If it’s an interview, you need to spend much more time preparing for it.

Special thanks to James Collins (NP Group), Kate Croucher (FDM Group), Richard Pettinger (UCL), Kevin Doyle (UWE), Kathryn Roden (Sheffield)

More stuff if you are still up for reading:

Preparing for Career Fairs- Blog by University College London (UCL)
Top 10 basic Interview Questions- by National Career Service

“Dressing the part shows you mean business”- Tech employers.