On Friday, Mar. 26, the Career Education and Professional Development office presented its 18th Annual Spring Career Internship & Graduate School Fair. In the week prior leading up to the career fair, “Prepare for the Fair” events were hosted in a collaboration between the Career Education office and Student Activities and Leadership Development. These events included an employer resume critique night and a LinkedIn photo booth.
Additionally, the first preparation event of the week occurred on Mar. 23. At this zoom event, Ashley Dwyer hosted a “Stand Out at the Fair Training” to introduce students to the virtual format of the career fair. At the training, she provided a comprehensive overview of what to expect at the fair. Dwyer began the event by stating that all class years and majors were encouraged to attend the fair and then provided an explanation of the types of employers that would be present. Additionally, she explained that over 80 employers were attending the fair, stemming from graduate schools, non-profits, for-profit organizations and government agencies. She also highlighted the ways that the event would be both “flexible and fluid.” For instance, on the day of the fair, students would join a queue to be connected to employers in one-on-one video chats, and through CareerSaint, employers had the ability to use whichever video technology they preferred. This model provided flexibility, as students did not have to make appointments ahead of time; instead, participants could log onto CareerSaint throughout the day to meet with employers in between classes and work.
After introducing students to the format of the fair, Dwyer provided some quick tips on how to prepare ahead of time. She encouraged students to research the employers before the event, in order to both ask targeted questions and to know which ques to prioritize attending. In this section of her training, Dwyer highlighted the importance of networking and consistent communication. She also added some important tips specific to the digital format of the event. Dwyer emphasized the need to show investment in the conversation through body language, as well as finding a location to attend the event that was bright and quiet. She ended the presentation with questions from students, but before that, she talked about steps to take post-fair, whether that be consistent communication, a continuation of networking or sending thank you notes. As a whole, Dwyer’s training was a valuable tool for students to learn about what to expect from the virtual format of the career fair.
On the day of the fair, students logged onto CareerSaint to view which employers were present. Starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, the website showed how many representatives from each company were online, as well as the estimated wait time to speak with them. Throughout the day, estimated wait times ranged from 0 minutes to over an hour, but typically were around 5-15 minutes. Students could click to join up to 5 queues at a time, then when an employer was available, they could click to join their meeting. Once students were brought to the link to join the virtual meeting, employers had 5-15 minute blocks to speak one-on-one with students. Lastly, once the meeting was over, before attending their next meeting, students could add notes on CareerSaint to view at a later date.
Just as Dwyer’s training emphasized, the fair was both flexible and fluid. In allowing students to join queues from five different employers at a time, the format easily allowed students to meet with as many employers as possible when time permitted. Thus, while this year’s spring career fair may have looked different than in the past, the event was incredibly valuable in allowing students of all class years and majors to meet with potential employers and graduate schools.