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2020's virtual career fair: A Q&A with ECS director Amy Fruehling

2020's virtual career fair: A Q&A with ECS director Amy Fruehling

9/9/2020 Kimberly Belser

Engineering Career Services will be hosting a Virtual Career Fair for The Grainger College of Engineering students seeking internships and full-time job opportunities. The fair, which will take place on September 9 and 10, will include recruiters from Abbvie, State Farm and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Amy Fruehling, the Director of Engineering Career Services, shares more about what students can expect, and how they can prepare for the fair.

Q: I understand that there are two fairs taking place, one for students seeking internships and another for students looking to procure full time jobs. Can you tell me about how both of these events are structured?
A: The virtual fairs (engineering, business and LAS/ACES) are being managed through the CareerEco platform. This tool offers students and employers several different options to interact–group and private chat rooms as well as video chat rooms. Companies have indicated the specific times, between the hours of 9am-6pm CST, where they will be hosting chat rooms for specific job titles. Companies are actively reviewing student resumes that have been uploaded into the system and are already reaching out to students to invite them to virtually meet them at the fair. Companies have also posted on CareerEco the positions for which they are recruiting for during the fair. So, students can do all their research ahead of time. 
Q: What were your goals in designing a virtual option for the Engineering Career Fair?
A: There are many different virtual career fair platforms available. We wanted to make sure that our students and employers had the best experience possible with multiple ways to interact….and with the size of the Engineering Career Fair, we didn’t want to take any chances with new technology. The tool we selected has a proven track record of hosting virtual career fairs successfully. Their customer service support is exceptional. And, all of the features offered to both students and employers, it offers a great way to students to interact with up to 200 different employers in one event.  As with any new technology, we encourage students to become familiar with the tool ahead of time so that they can make their best impression when the fair is live!
Q: Is there any assistance/programing that your office is providing prior to the fair?
Engineering Career Services and the Engineering EXPO student group have been offering multiple opportunities for students to learn about the CareerEco platform, along with ways to be the most successful in managing the virtual fair experience. In fact, EXPO will be offering a Virtual Career Fair training session next week over zoom!  ECS advisors are also available for virtual advising appointments, scheduled through Handshake. And, we have some great technology available 24/7 for students as well: VMock (virtual resume review) and Big Interview (virtual interview practice).
A: Is there anything that students should do differently to prepare this fall?
The ECS team has compiled the “Virtual Career Desk” on our website which includes comprehensive advice and tips for success during this virtual recruiting season. I encourage students to review this resource. A few highlights: Be visible; participate in the virtual activities such as career fairs, info sessions and other company activities. Be prepared: whether you prepare with help from ECS advisors or by using VMock and Big Interview, there are ways to access the advice you can benefit from no matter where you are located, AND some simple actions to take that will make a big difference. For example: use a nice background for your video meeting?no one wants to see your messy closet! Or, use a word document to ‘cut and paste’ questions/answers into your chat rooms during the virtual career fair so you can avoid typos, speed up responses and eliminate so much typing!
Q: Though the career fair this year is different from the typical structure of the virtual career fair, how do you believe that it will still be successful/ helpful for students in the job search?
A: Over the last few years, many employers have been shifting to virtual interviews and online applications. This fall has really forced companies to recruit in some virtual capacity. While the in-person interactions are missed, the ability for companies and students to meet without having to travel may make participation in recruiting activities easier.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A: You have probably heard that employment rates are high and the job market is tight. While this is true in many industries, companies are hiring Grainger Engineers! Be open minded and explore the companies participating in the Virtual Career Fair, and the jobs posted on Handshake. And, keep in mind that there are many tools to be using for your job/internship search. Just because you don’t see a company participating in the job fair, doesn’t mean that they don’t have open positions. The ECS advisors can help you develop a job/internship strategy using a variety of tools to help you maximize your success.