I have mixed feelings about jobs, careers and university fairs. On a personal level, I find them to be a good way of replenishing my stock of pens and sticky notes, but mildly terrifying: the large echoing spaces, the crowds of people, the multiple attempts to politely end the over-enthusiastic sales pitch of an exhibitor whose company/university I have no interest in…
And yet I have been encouraging my students, both here at LIS and in my previous job in England, to attend these events as an important part of their career exploration. Why? Because they help students develop a number of life skills and opportunities that both the research (and common sense) identify as important for young people’s future success, including:
- The opportunity to develop ‘social networks of value’ (OECD, 2020)
- Multiple and varied encounters with employers and training/education providers (Good Career Guidance Report, 2014)
- Communication skills and social confidence
However, it is not enough to send young people into a careers or HE fair in the hope that they will leave with anything more than a goody bag full of free stationery, as useful as that may be. If students are to make the most of these events, they need to be supported in both prior preparation and post-event reflection.
There are plenty of resources out there offering advice for getting the most out of university/jobs fairs; Unifrog’s guide to university fairs is a sensible place to start, with suggested questions as well as links to other sites offering further advice.
Taking preparation to the next level is the Institute für Talententwicklung’s Vocatium Fachmesse für Ausbildung und Berufe who offer pre- and post-fair workshops for schools alongside their range of online and live career fairs. The Vocatium Jobs and Training Fair isn’t coming to Leipzig until June 2022: the timing works well for us at LIS and I will run pre- and post-event sessions for grade 9 to 12 students who sign up to attend as part of a variety of planned careers and university events in those last few weeks of term.
In the meantime, if you wish to make an earlier visit, the Halle Vocatium Messe takes place on 17/18 November 2021 . Alternatively, there are many online opportunities advertised on their website, as well as their ‘Parentum’ Messe which gives support to parents as well as students (the nearest live Parentum is in Potsdam on 20 November 2021).
For those who don’t speak German, it might seem that the local jobs and university fairs are no-go areas. This is not the case. Yes, there will be stands at these events which may not be relevant but many of the larger, international employers like Amazon, DHL and BMW will happily speak to you in English. In addition, increasing numbers of international universities have a presence at these events: it’s worth a look at the attendance list published on the specific fair’s website to check who might be attending.
That said, for access to a wider spectrum of world-wide universities, the Association of German International Schools (AGIS) will be running its Virtual University Fair again around March 2022, with exact dates to be confirmed. Even sooner is the College Day Online Fair on 15 November 2021 and, for an even more global spectrum, the Worldwide College Tours have their online Global University Fair on 29 November 2021.
And finally, Mr Justin Sands and I are always at the end of an email, in either English or German, to offer support and guidance to both you and your child when it comes to navigating the world of job and university fairs.