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Everything a Humanities Major Needs to Know about Going to the Gies Career Fair

Business Career Fair at Illinois Campus Recreation Activities and Recreation Center.

Next week is the Gies Business Career Fair. It takes place over three days, Wednesday, Feb. 2 (in person), Thursday, Feb. 3 (virtual), and Friday, Feb. 4 (virtual). 

Students outside of Gies are welcome at this career fair, and employers will be there who want to hire students with the skills you’ve gained in your humanities major. 

A few things to know about meeting employers at a career fair: 

  • You will need a resume. We can help you with that. Start with our recommended resume format, swapping out the boilerplate text with your own information. (There are much prettier resume formats out there, but employers who may have never met someone with your major before will be reassured by a resume that looks like all the other resumes they see at the U of I.) Bring multiple copies with you to the in-person career fair. 
  • You will need to sign up on Handshake for specific sessions at the virtual career fair days. You don’t need to do that for the in-person day (2/2), but you should still identify the employers you want to talk to. 
  • Dress to blend in and look professional at an in-person fair: pants or a skirt (no sweats or jeans), a collared shirt or office-appropriate top (no hoodies, logos, or athletic wear), dress shoes (not sneakers), blazer or jacket if you have one, subdued accessories/necktie.  
  • Make sure you have the recommended browser for a virtual fair. Your interactions may take place entirely over text but be prepared to turn on your mic or camera if asked and wear an office-appropriate shirt or blouse. Check your look on your screen, not your mirror.  
  • Have good questions to ask! Read up on the employers that you want to talk to, what they do, and what they’re hiring for (if that info is available) and show up with some specific questions that show that you’ve done your research and are interested in working for them. 
  • Be prepared to introduce yourself. Resist the urge to lead with your major and year in school. It’s not a shameful secret, but it doesn’t tell employers what they want to know. Lead with the reasons they should hire you: your work or leadership experience (even retail/service jobs show your work ethic and responsibility), the ease with which you research/write/juggle deadlines/learn new things/manage multiple commitments, your eagerness to learn, your interest in what they do. 
  • Take notes of the answers to your questions and write down the names of people you talk to. Use this information to write thank-you emails after the career fair and connect with them on LInkedIn
  • We are available here in the HPRC to help you prepare. Set up a Zoom appointment at https://go.illinois.edu/HPRCAdvising or drop by in person on Tuesday between 1:30 and 4:30. 

Below are some specific areas where humanities majors tend to find success. Read specific job openings for additional details and insight. If you find yourself thinking “but that job doesn’t go with my major…” then stop and recalibrate. Lots of employers want smart people with four-year degrees – they are less concerned with what the degree is in. If the opportunities we highlight don’t appeal to you, be assured that many organizations use other paths to find entry-level talent. However, career fairs are a low-stakes way to practice talking to employers and expand your knowledge of potential career paths – it’s worth going, even if your dream job isn’t here. 

Sales, recruiting/staffing, business development, account executive roles 

These positions require top-notch communication skills and the ability to listen and problem-solve. Customer service/food/retail experience is an asset here, but these jobs are often more about building relationships than pushing a product. 

Leadership development, management program, rotational program, management trainee 

These positions require an ability to learn quickly and curiosity. They are often designed specifically for students who have limited direct experience of the industry and its job functions. They involve a 1- to 2-year training/probationary period where one gains experience in various departments at the company before being promoted to a regular full-time position.  

Operations, product management, project management 

These roles require a combination of strong organizational and people skills. Warehouse/package handling or supervisory (e.g., shift manager) experience can be an asset here, as well as the kind of leadership experience that involves streamlining processes and making things run smoothly. 

Digital media, marketing 

These positions require strong written and spoken communication skills, as well as good organization. Some also require quantitative skills – so humanities people who are not scared by spreadsheets are at an advantage. RSO experience can be relevant here, particularly if you’ve promoted events or recruited members on social media.  

Consultant, HR, Analyst… 

There are many vague job titles that may well require skills you have. ALWAYS read past the job title to the description of the “requirements” for a particular role. If you meet most of those requirements (and are eager to gain the ones you don’t have) then you are in a “related major.” Enthusiasm and genuine interest in a particular role or company are always a meaningful job qualification. 

You can find more information about the Gies Career Fair on Handshake, along with more extensive information about the employers who will be there:  

Wednesday, February 2, in person 

Thursday, February 3, virtual 

Friday, February 4, virtual 

Here is our complete list of employers of interest to humanities majors: https://go.illinois.edu/GiesCFforHumanities 

Have questions? Email us at humanitiesprc@illinois.edu