It’s time to get yourself over to the computer and get ready for your upcoming Virtual Career Fair! It’s not the same as the physical experience of an in-person career fair where one would traditionally meander from booth to booth greeting recruiters and prospective employers with a smile, a handshake, and a “how do you do”. Alas, there is no strut down the professional catwalk on your pilgrimage to employment.
However, the practice of virtual career fairs has become more prevalent due to Covid-19, and will most likely be a lasting fixture beyond the pandemic. If we allow ourselves to embrace these changes we may find that there are more pros than cons to virtual connectivity. Harvard University psychology professor Dr. Ellen J. Langer put it best when she wrote, "it is not primarily our physical selves that limit us but rather our mindset about our physical limits." Let’s expand on that concept and get started to prepare for any and all virtual career fairs!
Attending college without using the full amenities of the career center is like staying at an Arizona resort in the summer without swimming in the pool. Visit your school’s website and see what their schedule is for hosting virtual career fairs.
Sign up for email or text notifications for upcoming events to stay in the loop. Typically there will be 1-2 months to prepare for an event. However even if you are a week out from an event don’t shy away from registering. Practice builds confidence and you can never have too much of either.
Something to keep in mind is that whether you are a current student or alum, your school staff members will be ready and willing to help. The career center is especially useful because leading up to the virtual career fair they offer guidance to familiarize you with what to expect and give you ample time to address any questions with your Career Advising Specialist. They focus on a myriad of topics via tutorials and webinars to cover:
There will be advanced time to research the companies attending any virtual career fair you register for, enabling you to make a list starting with the companies you are most interested in and working your way down from there. Go to the company websites to explore their “About Us” page, their company culture section, and the open positions they have listed. This will give you an idea of how to articulate your questions and possibly categorize them as 1.) questions to ask in a group session, or 2.) questions to ask in a one-on-one interview.
In a group session the host will guide the group and announce when questions can be asked, in which case you can either ask while on video and making eye contact or you will be able to type out your question(s) into the chat (so, have some questions that you can paste in when it’s time). Of the open positions that you’ve researched before the virtual career fair, focus on questions that relate to a specific role, growth opportunities, the company culture, and the hiring process.
Do not let yourself get discouraged! Preparation, repetition, and exposure is key to increasing your odds of getting noticed by employers. Sign up for as many virtual career fairs as you can handle and build relationships with recruiters! Each interview gets easier with time and you will start to find your rhythm as you discuss your resume and skills as well as your confidence when it comes time to negotiate your salary.
Just like a virtual interview, treat your virtual career fair as if it were an in-person event. This means being ready on time, dressing professionally, and having a clean, professional-looking background.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a digital savant like the characters from the show Mr. Robot (or as I like to call it, “IT Fight Club”). But it is imperative to check your technologies at least one day before the event. This gives you one less thing to worry about so you can spend the day-of focused on what’s most important: your pitch.
Take this time to also expand upon your virtual network.and stay in touch with other students and alums who have attended the same workshops or events. We can always learn from each other and empathize with the shared experience of exploring your career options. This new virtual landscape may have closed a door or two, but it has simultaneously opened up many more!