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Preparing for the 2020 Virtual NIH Graduate and Professional School Fair

Live Sessions (August 4, 2020) and Pre-Recorded Sessions

Know what sessions are available and when they will be broadcast. If you miss live sessions, don’t worry; they will be uploaded on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/NIHOITE) shortly after the event. You will also find the pre-recorded sessions there. Take notes on the information the speakers share. Listen carefully to the questions and answers; it’s likely other participants asked the questions you wanted to ask.

Online Exhibitor Sessions Organized by Participating Schools and Universities (August 5 – 7, 2020)

 
Online interactions are just as important as in-person interactions. Your body language, the words you use, and the questions you ask tell participating schools a lot about you. Review the following list to ensure you make the most of the Exhibitor Sessions.

Prepare before the event:

  • Make a list of schools you want to visit. You will find a list of participating schools at https://www.training.nih.gov/gp_fair_institutions.
  • Consider exploring some schools/programs you are not already familiar with.
  • Narrow your list down to a reasonable number of exhibitors.
  • Make an agenda: collect online meeting information (URL, date, and time) for each school you plan to “visit”. Remember that meeting times are Eastern Daylight Time.
  • Investigate the schools that interest you most.

    • Visit the school website.
    • Check out their presence on social media.
  • Prepare questions to ask school representatives.
  • Make sure that the questions are not ones that are answered on their website. (Hint: ask for the representative’s opinion.)
  • Ask specific questions. Instead of “I’m interested in public health; can you tell me about your programs?”, you might say “I see that you have ____ program in public health/free clinic; can you tell me about how a first year student can participate?”
  • Avoid questions/requests that are

    • Too general: Tell me more about your school.
    • Too specific: My GPA and test score are ____; what are my chances of getting into your program?
  • Practice your elevator speech: be prepared to talk about yourself, your academic work and experiences, your skills and competencies, and what interests you about this program.
  • Review your social media accounts. Graduate and professional schools search for applicants on the internet and on social media, so be sure your accounts are professional, and check your settings to keep information private.
  • Test your internet connection to make sure you can see, hear, and communicate easily. A laptop or desktop might work better than a tablet or smartphone. Also, be sure you have access to reliable WiFi.

Virtual Fair Etiquette:

  • Use the video option when possible, and try to look at the camera.
  • Dress appropriately and be neatly groomed. Dress as if you were attending an in-person Fair.
  • Make sure your background is professional and work appropriate.
  • Be present. It may be tempting to check your inbox or other websites, but don’t do it. Sit up straight and don’t let your eyes wander.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off or silence your phone (if you aren’t using it to call in). If you’re connecting on your computer, close all other apps and browser windows to eliminate notifications. When you are talking to school representatives, you want them to know that you value their time.
  • Don’t eat during the meeting.
  • Mute your microphone when you are not talking.
  • Briefly review the chat to see questions and answers that have already been asked.
  • Use your full name to sign in. Schools may want to reach out to you later and using a nickname could make you hard to find.
  • Address school representatives using the appropriate salutation (Dr., Mr., or Ms.) and their last name. Don’t address them by their first names. (If in doubt, use “Dr.”)
  • Use the chat box to interact with current and prospective students as well as admissions professionals.
  • Respect the fact that many students may want to speak with the school representatives; don’t monopolize the time. Be patient and concise. Remember that representatives may have multiple chats going in simultaneously.
  • Take notes on the information you learn and interesting questions that arise.
  • When your question is answered, post a simple “thank you” in the chat.
  • Have fun!

After the event

Follow up with contacts you make and send thank you notes to make a positive impression and continue the dialogue.