A Short Guide to Virtual Career Fairs, for students
Virtual career fairs have grown in popularity during the past couple of years, particularly in light of the shift to remote communication and engagement brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though they may seem daunting, virtual career fairs offer a unique and rewarding experience to representatives and attendees alike. However, with thousands of employers and hundreds of virtual platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Understanding how to properly navigate a virtual career fair (VCF) is a crucial first step towards securing the opportunity of your dreams; and with a few simple steps, you too can successfully navigate a virtual career fair.
Why attend virtual career fairs?
In comparison to traditional career fairs, virtual career fairs offer many advantages. Attendees are able to connect early and connections are more accessible to those who may not be able to meet face-to-face. You aren’t restricted to events near your current location, which is one of the biggest advantages. Recruiting from all over the world in a single session has been made possible by virtual career fairs.
In addition, a virtual environment eliminates many of the stressors associated with traditional, in-person events. Through virtual events, companies can reach out to potential employees from all around the world without having to travel to a physical location. Also, they can provide attendees with access to various resources without the stress of navigating traffic or finding a parking space.
Virtual spaces also help even the playing field for attendees. Where in-person events can be intimidating and chaotic, virtual career fairs hopefully ease any social anxiety concerns people have about traditional career fairs.
How should I prepare for a virtual career fair?
Being properly informed and prepared is fundamental to ensuring success on the day of a virtual event. Below are some important steps you should take to get ready to attend a virtual career fair:
- Register ahead of time. Don’t miss out on an event just because you forgot to sign up!
- Do your research. Read through the list of companies or groups attending the fair and visit their websites to review their general information. Pick your top five based on your interests and needs and plan to visit their booths. Check the event agenda to help organize a tentative schedule.
- Brainstorm questions. Make the most of your limited time by preparing a detailed list of questions to ask. Try to avoid asking questions easily found on a website and instead focus on asking about typical projects, core skills and competencies that participants receive in the program, the mentoring experience, types of professional development that may be offered, and how to identify what the selecting mentor may be looking for in their evaluation of an application. Consider ranking your questions by importance to ensure you can gather all of the information you need.
Make sure to check out the open jobs and internships on MatcHub’s platform. At virtual career fairs, employers are looking for students to hire, so they’re likely to discuss current opportunities during this session.
- Test your equipment. Run a video and sound check, verify your registration, and review any training materials or information provided by the event sponsor.
- Prepare your space. Clean up messy or distracting backgrounds and try to eliminate any potential interruptions.
- Dress for success. Whether you’re chatting with representatives via text or video, dressing professionally can boost your confidence and get you in the right headspace for a professional event and help you leave a strong and positive impression on representatives.
- Arrive on time and stay around. Be sure to stick around for the whole thing. You wouldn’t want to log out early from a one-on-one session with an employer, would you? Group sessions are no different. The session may not be what you expected, or all your questions may have been answered early. Doesn’t matter-just like you, employers are busy, and they value their time. Staying until the end of a meeting shows you’re a responsible and respectful person.
- Prepare to send your follow-up. Prepare a draft of your follow-up message before you go to the employer’s session. Once the session is over, you will be one step ahead of the competition. Thank the employer ambassador for their time and for sharing information about your organization. After that, include something specific you enjoyed discussing or learning about, and reiterate how interested you are in the company. Let them know you’re taking next steps, like applying to a job. You can have drafts ready before the fair starts. It’s easy to edit and send them after your sessions — and you’ll be one of the first to follow up. It’ll make you stand out!
Don’t be afraid to look into companies or programs you haven’t heard of before, or to talk to representatives about opportunities you might not have previously considered. And don’t forget to have fun!
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