1. Dress for success.
Dress in accordance to the occasion. Usually for universities’ open houses, you can come in your smart casual wear. A t-shirt and jeans should suffice. However, if you are invited to an exclusive scholarship reception, dress as if you are going for an interview. Come in your formal attire so that you show respect to your hosts- the HR managers, for instance, who would be similarly dressed.
2. Do your homework.
Brainstorm a list of questions that you want to ask. Direct your questions to the appropriate target audience. If you would like to know more about the vibrant hall life in university, approach the student helpers. On the other hand, if you wish to find out more about the curriculum design, go directly to the professors. Don’t ask questions that you can readily find online. We know that’s what all students typically do; they are there to find out about the different courses. But what better way is there to distinguish you from the rest of your peers than to ask quality questions! For example, you may ask “What would you say is a key characteristic for success in this course?”
To create an even deeper impression, conduct a research on the important figures in your interested faculties. Find out who the deans; the directors; and the key decision makers are. These people like to have their significance recognised. So you stand to impress them if you could just make reference to a few of their key accolades and projects and show an interest in it. For example, you can start off by saying “Hi Prof (Insert name), I saw your project on (insert title) online and I would like to know more about…”
3. Come with confidence
After all that preparation, you are ready to set the stage. Approach your professor or host with a smile, an eye-contact, a firm handshake, and a powerful self- introduction. This creates a lasting first impression that put you ahead of other potential applicants. Top it off with your quality questions and you are on your recruiter’s first mind. Nonetheless, we understand that confidence does not come naturally. Practise this with your friends or parents in your free time and actively seek feedbacks from them.
4. Listen to everyone around you
If you find yourself waiting in line to speak with a professor, make your time count. Listen intently and show that you are interested, so that the professor knows that you want to speak to him. While listening, you can always learn something new through the questions that other students ask.
Remember that each reception or open house is a good opportunity to network with people, so come in with an open mind. Always plan to spend at least half a day at open houses so that you have enough time to go around and talk to people. After establishing rapport with your “intended key figures” on your target list from point 2, chat with other people who happen to be available. Ask for business cards from the people whom you networked with, and follow up by sending a thank-you note after the session to show your appreciation.
You may think that the 5 tips are an overkill and alittle uncomfortable, but if your small little effort can give you a headstart in life, then why not ?
Now for the don’ts.
1. Don’t be late.
Do not come in at the final few hours of an open house because that is when professors would have left and students would be packing up to go home. Never, ever turn up late for a formal reception because that is certainly going to leave a bad imprint on others! You are also not showing respect for your hosts who have taken off time from their hectic work schedule to spend time with you.
2. Don’t go from booths to booths with a large group of friends.
In fact, your interests may be so diverse that it makes no point for you to stick together and accompany each other at different booths. Be brave, step out of your comfort zone, approach people independently and make your own lasting impression.
3. Don’t be shy
Remember these people are there to answer your questions for the whole day(or at least half the day). They will be really bored if you don’t go up to them. So get ready to bombard them shamelessly with whatever questions you have in mind.
4. Dont go to just one
The best way to get a feel of the school or scholarship provider is to experience it yourself. As much as the online world provides all sorts of information these days, you do want to go down, meet the people and tour the place as much as you can. Afterall, you will be spending a good amount of years there. If the people or environment doesn’t give you good vibes, then skip it. Trust your guts.
5. Don’t focus on food or freebies.
This is the biggest social faux pas and a big no-no that you should absolutely abstain from – Piling food on your plates and hiding in a corner to eat. You are here to network with people, to explore your career opportunities and not to eat free food or get free goodies! If you do so, you are too focused on the momentary pleasure but you lose sight of your long-term goals.
If you go by the 10 tips above, you will be almost certain to gain the most out of your time at the reception and/or open house. Remember, it is a once-in-a-year opportunity and you don’t always get to meet so many university personnel at the same time, so give it your best shot!