Organizing a large-scale Alternative Careers Fair will take up to two months, depending on the number of people planning it and the resources available. This timeline will help organizers establish a realistic schedule and maximize their time, outreach efforts and the impact of the fair.

More specific directions for committee work follow the timeline.

Week 1-2

  • Identify at least 4 core students to plan the fair with you.

  • Investigate the availability of on-campus facilities.

  • Meet with the core group, choose a coordinator and set a date for a general interest meeting (GIM).

  • Publicize the upcoming GIM in local and campus calendars, flyers and posters, letters to faculty and in the campus newspaper. Work with your campus radio station to develop a public service announcement that can be aired on campus and community stations.

  • Look for and make preliminary contact with sponsors within student groups, the career placement office, student government and relevant administrators and faculty members. Your counterparts at neighboring campuses should do this as well.

  • Draft budget proposal and take it to student government, academic departments on campus, career placement office, alumni offices, student affairs, education department, the chancellor's or president's office, community foundations, campus community service office campus ministry.

  • Target possible dates.

Weeks 3-4

  • Hold GIM. At the meeting, determine fair agenda. Choose site, date, speakers and alternative dates, times, places and speakers. Make budget; tailor timeline; set up project committees to focus on fundraising/sponsors, speaker search, organization contact, publicity and resources/facilities. Choose committee leaders and establish weekly meeting times for committees.

  • Fundraising/Sponsors committee secure funding where possible, and continue to take fair proposal and budget to organizations for funds and in-kind support.

  • Publicity committee develops oral and written announcements to draw more student organizers if necessary; identifies campus and community publications and contacts; drafts letters to the editor and articles about the fair; designs logo, slogans and flyers for later use; and establishes publicity schedule.

  • Speaker Search committee consults various speakers' bureaus, student center, student and local groups, chapter offices of national groups, PIRGs, etc., for potential speakers and prices. Makes calls and sends letters of inquiry. Chooses and acquires speaker for the event; sends letter confirming honorarium or fee to be paid, the date, time and location of fair and speaker's commitment (for lecture, news conference, or both).

  • Organization Contact committee compiles list of desirable organizations, and contacts and confirms participation of familiar groups.

  • Resources/Facilities committee reserves facilities through student organization or school department, based on type of agenda and participating campuses, and starts obtaining the books, materials, videos, films and audiovisuals needed.

Week 5

  • Hold meeting of project committee leaders to assess progress.

  • Organization Contact - Call unfamiliar social change groups; send confirmation letter and questionnaire to consenting familiar and unfamiliar groups.

  • Publicity - Develop notes for fair in local and campus publications and calendars.

  • Resources/Facilities - Confirm facilities reservation; continue to obtain resources for sale and/or distribution at the conference. Draft student and group evaluation forms.

  • Fundraising/Sponsors - Allot money to cover activities of committees: speaker fees, printing costs, telephone costs, etc. Continue to seek funds if necessary. Negotiate contributions of student and department organizers at other campuses.

Week 6

  • Publicity - send preliminary news advisory to campus and local media; follow up with telephone calls to make sure that it was received. Begin airing public service anouncement on campus/community radio. Discuss articles with campus publications; send in letters to the editor describing the fair and the need for it. Try to arrange pre-fair coverage.

  • Organization Contact - Send group representatives a final agenda, a full list of participants, and instructions for setting up tables. Continue to contact possible organizations.

  • The Fundraising/Sponsors and Speakers committees' tasks should now be completed. Committee members should table literature, post flyers on and off campus and arrange to make presentations about the fair in classes, dining halls, residence halls and meetings. Classroom presentations are referred to as "class raps."

  • Resources/Facilities - Send maps and instructions on how to travel to the fair to all participating group representatives and to sponsoring student groups on neighboring campuses. Begin to compile questionnaires received from participating organizations in booklet and binder form. If the career office is not helping to sponsor the fair, ask them to staff a table with relevant books and resources, or request that they loan their relevant books and materials for a display at the fair.

Week 7

  • Publicity - Prepare media packets; call editors with story suggestions and offer information and interviews; continue to table and leaflet the campus and community; put new announcement in campus newspaper's weekly schedule of events.

  • Organization Contact - Finalize group list for distribution at fair. Prepare name badges for staff. Make signs to label groups' tables.

  • Resources/Facilities - Publish and distribute fair programs and questionnaire booklets to students planning to attend the fair. These materials should also be distributed at neighboring campuses.

The Week of the Job Fair

  • Put up fresh posters.

  • Make announcements in classes; ask faculty to announce the fair in their classes. Send faculty copies of the organizations' questionnaires that are relevant to their classwork and students, asking them to announce that those organizations will be on campus during the career fair.

  • Leave chalkboard notices in key classrooms.

  • Contact the media again, and ask if they plan to cover the event.

  • Assemble materials to be given to students and groups -- registration cards, evaluation forms, social change reading list, etc.

  • Check on necessary audiovisual equipment; make sure projectors, VCRs, microphones are reserved and working.

The Day of the Job Fair

  • Make and post directional signs on campus to lead attendees to parking and to the fair site.

  • Distribute leaflets to students.

  • Conduct registration.

  • Welcome and introduce speaker(s).

  • Arrange interviews for speaker with media after speech.

  • Help groups find and set up their booths.

  • Oversee films, moderate panel discussions.

  • Collect evaluation forms from students and groups.

The Week After the Fair

  • Send thank-you letters to all speakers and participating groups.

  • Read evaluations, and summarize the responses and organizing tips in a memo for future fair organizers.

  • If career office did not sponsor or help plan the fair, make an appointment with the director to discuss their participation in future fairs.

  • Request that participating organizations and speakers write letters in support of future events on alternative careers. These letters should be sent to your organization and kept on file to demonstrate the success and usefulness of the career fair, and copies should be sent to the career office, the president of the school, student government and other on-campus organizations in the position to help organize and fund an alternative careers fair on an annual basis.