Despite the cancellation of the majority of in-person activities across campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Career Center is still giving students access to eight virtual career fairs throughout the fall semester.
LSA junior Justin Schneider is currently applying for computer science internships. He said career fairs allow for networking and job opportunities.
“It’s a great way to connect with recruiters and potentially get an internship,” Schneider said. “And even if something doesn’t work out it’s always good to see how the process works and get your name out there.”
UCC Director Kerin Borland said that they decided to develop eight “more targeted” events so that students could focus on the industries that interest them most.
The career fairs will take place between late September and early November. Students can sign up for these career fairs on Handshake, a website to help students find internships and careers.
Different colleges are also holding career fairs for students in the same virtual format, such as the College of Engineering’s virtual engineering-based career fairs.
In contrast to a normal career fair where students can walk around freely, Borland said the virtual career fair allows students to set up one-on-one meetings with recruiters.
One-on-one meetings can be scheduled two days before the career fair, while drop-in meetings can be made the day of on the website. Students can download the Career Fair Plus app, which allows them to create a profile and upload their resume for employers to see and schedule one-on-one meetings with employers over video.
However, students like Schneider saw that many of the one-on-one slots filled up immediately after the signups opened.
“I was on the Amazon (hiring) page just waiting for 12 o’clock to hit, and literally as soon as it did, 10 seconds later they were all full,” Schneider said.
Despite the one-on-one slots filling up incredibly quickly, Schneider said he was relatively pleased with the straightforward signup process.
Engineering sophomore Bryce Tyburski went to the virtual SWE/TBP Career Fair, a collaboration between the Society of Women Engineers and Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honors society. While he said he secured 23 meetings with organizations at the virtual career fair, initially he had some trouble signing up due to slow updates on when slots were completely filled.
“I was seeing that some people had problems with the app,” Tyburski said. “It doesn’t really update much in real time.”
Tyburski said the virtual experience undermined his ability to make personal connections with companies.
“It’s harder to make a connection when you’re making eye contact through a screen compared with the actual person,” Tyburski said. “But I think sometimes you just want to talk to more people and get your name out there and be considered for more. It was a bit more efficient, you didn’t have to stand around and wait in line for an hour to see one company.”
Employers have also had to adjust to recruiting online. Terrell Johnson, a campus recruiter for consulting firm Accenture, said he had a good experience meeting with students despite the virtual setting.
“I enjoyed it, it was fairly easy and user friendly,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s hard to come out to career fairs, and the fact that they can do it virtually from home or wherever they are … is great.”
During in-person career fairs, students often have to wait for a long time in line and may not even be able to talk with employers. With the virtual setup, Johnson said he was able to more efficiently use the 10-minute slots for one-on-one meetings with students.
Borland encouraged students to sign up for the career fairs, and recommended students attend a career preparation workshop.
“All the personal preparation — why are you interested in the organization, what are the opportunities that the organization has that you feel are a good fit for you — do your practice, whether it’s a mock interview or developing an elevator pitch,” Borland said. “Each of the fairs that UCC sponsors has a career prep workshop right before, so the opportunity to get some extra tips and tricks currently exists for students.”
Borland said though one-on-one meetings may fill up quickly, it is still valuable to go into the drop-in rooms to ask questions and talk with the employers.
Borland said it is more important than ever for students to make connections with recruiters.
“Any opportunity to make a connection with an organization of interest is really an opportunity that you want to try to take advantage of,” Borland said.
Daily Staff Reporter Cynthia Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.