Virtual career fairs: helpful or waste of time?
By Rachel Reap
TUSCALOOSA – For decades career fairs have been hosted by universities as a resource for their students looking to enter the job market, but due to COVID implications many career fairs have switched to virtual career fairs.
During the spring 2021 semester, The University of Alabama will host a total of six career fairs in various different fields. Before COVID, career fairs were in-person events where an attendee was expected to show up in business professional clothing with printed resumes in hand.
Since switching to virtual, students no longer have the opportunity to meet company representatives in person. This means no shaking hands or directly handing someone a resume. The lack of face-to-face connection and conversation leads some students feeling like virtual career fairs are not nearly as helpful as in-person events.
Kelsey Zell, a senior studying public health, attended one of Alabama’s virtual job fairs and said she wishes it could have been in-person.
“While meeting these companies via Zoom was a great opportunity, I feel as if the career fair I attended in-person, pre-COVID, was much better. I feel as if I made real connections with the people I met with in person, and not so much with the people I met with over Zoom,” Zell said.
Unfortunately, there is not virtual equivalent to shaking someone’s hand, but virtual career fairs do have their up-sides. Michael Walker, a senior finance student at Alabama, also attended a recent career fair and feels like virtual events make it easier for students to attend.
“Before career fairs became virtual, I never had time in my schedule to attend, but now it’s very easy to get ready and sit down in front of my laptop to meet with employers. I also feel less nervous and more prepared because I can quickly look at my talking points if I get stuck,” Walker said.
Missy Cataldo, another senior student, felt like her time at the virtual career fair was well spent.
“It was a lot less nerve-racking than being in person and it [attending virtually] was nice because it forces both people’s attention to be focused on one another without any distractions,” Cataldo said.
Overall, it seems that virtual or not, career fairs are a great way to get out there and meet with potential employers. While being virtual may lack that in-person connection, it is still an opportunity to learn more about the job market.
The University of Alabama will host one final career fair this semester on April 12, 2020. For more information go to https://career.sa.ua.edu/connect/career-fairs/