Congratulations survivors! We have weathered the storm and come out the other side reasonably whole!
When I walked into the Frank Erwin Center, I was definitely a bit overwhelmed. Over 200 companies were tabling, the thought of which made me a bit dizzy. And with both companies and students trying to woo the other, I couldn't help but think all this was a bit like some extravagant courting ritual. And I'm really bad at flirting.
But in all honesty, for me at least, my first career fair was not as stressful as I thought it would be. (Maybe that's because I wasn't dead set on an internship, but that's besides the point.)
All the recruiters were very kind to me, the useless freshman, and told me that I was on the right track and that they would be happy to really consider me in the spring (while scanning dubiously through my meager resume, but that's also besides the point). And the places that did hire freshman interns were especially nice, and very informative on the interview and internship process.
But all in all, the career fair was a really good experience to have under my belt, especially so early on in my computer science career. I learned a lot about how to work them, especially how to make quick connections with the recruiter and that you need to make those fast, personal connections to get people to remember you. Ask them if you can give them your contact information, because even if you don't have any hope of getting an internship with them now, it doesn't mean you have no hope of getting one in the future, and it's always good to be in the databases of a company you're really interested in.
And speaking of companies you're really interested in, I learned to make sure to research those companies so you have specific questions to ask the recruiter, which (surprise, surprise) leads to personal connections. I also learned that talking about my specific interests to the companies that also share those interests is a very good tactic.
I got an interview in all of this too, which was also a very good experience. It wasn't a technical, coding interview, so that lessened the pressure, but I was still nervous. But I realized that I had no reason to be. If I had anything to take away from the experience it's that you have to remember that your interviewer is human too. My interviewer told me a story about her son for half the time and made me feel completely at ease.
I'm really glad I went to career fair; even if nothing concrete comes out of it, I made so many connections and gained so much experience that will most definitely help me in the future. And the interviewing was a huge learning experience that will surely help prepare me for more down the line.