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The Virtual Career Fair

By Esmée Vernooij

The time has come again. Engineering and Business students all over campus put on their pressed shirts and clean suit jackets as they geared up for career fair, hoping to connect with a recruiter at their dream company. Things looked a little different this year though; rather than shaking hands with recruiters, students are now wearing their sweatpants and tuning into the meeting process virtually.

Virtual Career Fair – Layout

This year, the career fair was hosted on CareerEco – a virtual space that allows students and recruiters to meet via a chatroom. Students and recruiters would be put into a main room where students would send a message – often their elevator pitch – and would be messaged privately by a recruiter. This is where the connecting took place. Students were able to ask questions that they had, and recruiters were able to evaluate how well a student might fit into the company. Some companies would take the opportunity to further connect with students and start a video chat.

The Cons

There were, of course, some drawbacks to the new format. As is always true, it took a little getting used to the new format of the career fair to get comfortable – which when you are doing something as life-defining as searching for a job, can add unnecessary stress. It was also, at times, harder to connect with a recruiter because it isn’t really possible to gauge a person’s body language over chat.

The Benefits

The benefits of a virtual space certainly counteracted the drawbacks, though. In this format, you can talk to multiple companies at once and you get to meet people from the comfort of your own home. Plus, since there are no lines, your feet won’t hurt at the end and you won’t be sweaty from standing in a crowded gym for four hours.

Advice for the Future

Looking ahead to the potential of a format existing in the future, I have some advice to myself and others in preparing for a virtual career fair.

Set aside more time than you think you need. Because all recruiters are also talking to multiple people at once, it can take up to 10 minutes at a time for someone to respond to a message. Though this may seem frustrating, remember that you can always be researching a position or the company more during the waiting time, or even working on other work.

Still dress for success. Even though you are not always being seen, there is still a chance a recruiter might try to start a video call. There is also definitely something to be said about the professional confidence you gain just from dressing the part, so always wear at least a proper shirt and jacket.

Have your responses to basic questions and elevator pitch written out. This will make the chatting process faster. You can just copy and paste the elevator pitch you have and can quickly and elegantly respond to a recruiter’s message this way – which will speed up & improve the process!

Have the job description pulled up. If you can look at the job description, do so! You can be highlighting your skills that align with what the company wants for your position.

Express interest ahead of time. CareerEco had an option to select companies you were interested in ahead of time. Take the time to look through this list and check the ones that you want to attend – they might look at your resume ahead of time or send you information about exclusive networking opportunities outside of the career fair!

Show as much personality as you can and be confident. Ultimately, recruiters are getting used to this as much as we are, so stay level-headed and remember that you can do this! You have the skills and qualifications, now all you have to do it try to convey it!

Esmée Vernooij

Esmée is currently a junior in T&M Class XXVI studying Mechanical Engineering. She recently completed her internship at Volvo Trucks.

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