The upcoming spring Virtual Career Fair set to take place on Feb. 24 from noon to 4 p.m. will provide students the opportunity to connect with over 70 different employers. The event is free and students do not have to attend for the full four hours. Links to register for the fair and accompanying prep sessions are available in Handshake.
Lewis & Clark will co-host the fair in conjunction with St. Martin’s University, Seattle Pacific University and the University of Puget Sound. The fair will offer a mix of positions ranging from internships to part-time and full-time jobs.
Assistant Dean of Student Engagement and Executive Director of the Career Center Rocky Campbell said the fair is a great opportunity to practice and explore, whether or not students are actively seeking employment.
“Anyone is nervous about going to meet with a prospective future employer,” he said. “One of the best ways to deal with that nervousness is to actually do it — and this is a place where you get to practice that.”
The Career Center is offering 45-minute prep sessions with career advisors in order to help students make the most of their time at the fair. Students who attend both a prep session and the fair will be entered in a raffle to win a $25 gift card.
According to Amanda Wheaton, the employer relations coordinator at the Career Center, Handshake data from previous career fairs shows that students generally do not RSVP until three days before the event, and most students sign up the night before. The Career Center accordingly scheduled two of the prep sessions less than three days before the spring fair.
Students do not have to bring any materials to the prep sessions. Advisors will teach students how to navigate the fair, including providing guidance on how to create a professional appearance virtually and how to stand out. Most importantly, Wheaton said, advisors will coach students on how to follow up with employers after the fair in order to maintain relationships.
In Fall 2020, LC piloted a virtual career fair in conjunction with Reed College. The Career Center wanted to test the virtual format and see how many students would attend. Wheaton said that roughly 65 students registered for the fair, with about half actually attending.The numbers encouraged the Career Center to launch a larger fair this spring.
Participating employers will include Target, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and the OHSU Foundation, among many others.
Residential Career Advisor Ciara Orness ’22 said many of the employers at the spring fair will return to LC in the future, so this year’s virtual fair will allow students to make connections that might pay off later.
“It’s a great way to explore and make those connections in a situation that maybe isn’t as intense as an interview, or even as a normal career fair where you have to go up to a person yourself,” Orness said. “You can join a group session, find out some info, ask a question or two and follow up later, so it’s not as intimidating.”
Not only can the virtual format make the fair less stressful and remove barriers to access, but it also allows many more employers to participate. In-person events are constrained by their physical setting, which limits the number of people who can attend. Virtual fairs are not limited by event space, so more employers can visit LC students than in years past. Additionally, more companies are able to participate since recruitment costs are essentially eliminated.
The virtual format also makes it easier for students to schedule a time to meet individually with employers. At in-person events, students might have to stand in line for 20 minutes just to speak to an employer for two minutes, according to Wheaton.
However, a Zoom fair does have its drawbacks. Campbell acknowledged that many people are suffering from Zoom fatigue and often do not want to spend more time virtually than they have to. It can be difficult to create meaningful connections virtually, he said, and students need to be more intentional in how they engage with the fair since they cannot rely on walking around to discover new opportunities.
“Some of the organic exploration that can happen by walking into a room and just walking down the aisleways and pathways is different in a virtual setting,” Campbell said.
Wheaton encouraged students to fill out their Handshake profiles and upload their resumes so that potential employers can easily access their information.
“That way, it allows the employers to understand your qualifications and then reach out to you because they think you might be a good fit,” Wheaton said.