By: Jordan Brooks 

Talk around the office is that it is tradeshow season! Throughout this month and the months to come many of my coworkers will be going to various cities around the United States to talk with industry professionals to promote our clients’ brands and products. This buzz has had me wondering – have I ever been to a tradeshow? The short answer is no. But thinking a little harder, I have been to tradeshow-esque events as an undergrad or at least have heard of them around campus.

The almighty Google defines a tradeshow as “an exhibition at which businesses in a particular industry promote their products and services.” That sounds almost exactly like the following events that happen around every college campus around the U.S.

Campus Organization Days

We all know these. Mostly they are for freshman students to get acquainted with all that the campus has to offer but all students are invited to attend. These are usually located at the Student Union or on the campus’s green space (commonly referred to as the quad or the commons) and there are about a hundred booths with passionate student organization leaders making elevator pitches to perspective members about why you “have to join us!” They promote their organization’s benefits, talk to a lot of people, and most people give out free stuff. Sounds like a less specific tradeshow if you ask me.

Career Fairs

These happen every semester and are supposed to be beneficial for your professional career, and they are! But I see these as tradeshow-esque events that are a bit more formal and nerve-racking than the aforementioned campus organization days. These ones actually matter, because they can start your career with a company. But again, the set-up is very similar to that of a tradeshow – there are hundreds of booths, you talk to a lot of people, and (you guessed it) they give you free stuff.

What I am trying to get at is, once you get the nod to go to your first tradeshow for your company, don’t be intimidated – because you’ve been there before. Tradeshows will actually be easier and more enjoyable than campus organization days or career fairs, because they are industry specific and you probably actually care about what is being said – unlike when Shawn from the campus origami team told you that thinner paper is easier to fold.

Coming from someone who has never been to a tradeshow (and a simpleton), tradeshows seem like they are just big events where you get to talk to a lot of experts in an industry that your company (or your company’s client) is in, which is really cool. You will gain knowledge and contemplate some ideas to help make your company better, which could make you more valuable. So, if someone ever invites you to attend a tradeshow, go – because they are no different than most college recruitment events.