COVID fuels virtual job fair

Job Fairs have been a staple of college life forever. They function as a means for students to visualize and take the early steps to meet their goals. 

But what do students think of them?

“I think job fairs are a great idea. I love to explore new ways to make money,” said Oli Donahue, a freshman at Castleton, during a conversation about the upcoming fair over lunch one afternoon.

“I like them. They give an opportunity for others to reach out and expand their interests and meet new people. Like literally anyone. I’m just a fan of them. Never had a bad experience,” said Owen Burnham, who was eating lunch with fellow freshman Ethan Woodbury.

Traditionally, job fairs are held in a large room like a gymnasium or a room like the 1787 Room, where a ring of tables is organized and people mingle freely. 

These days, with COVID-19, a situation like that is concerning. 

“I would definitely be a bit concerned. Y’all have to be wary of large gatherings, ‘specially these days. I mean if you get COVID it’s not like the end of the world, trust me. But for the sake of others, it’s good to pay attention,” Woodbury said.

A solution to this has already been in the works, as students may have noticed both in general emails as well in the Sparty Says blog, that a virtual job fair is already in effect. A  roundtable discussion with Renee Beaupre-White, Jessica Duncan and Tiffany Ervin led to more details.

“It runs through the end of May,” said Beaupre-White, director of Career Services. “COVID certainly had an impact. But due to the current Vermont schools transformations, we felt it would best to join hands and put one virtual fair together to represent all our schools.”

Duncan, the director of Experimental Learning and Workplace Readiness, talked about the opportunities for students and emoployers.

“Currently, there are around 300 employees registered. There are a lot of exciting ones ranging from hospitals to non-profit organizations and even summer camps,” she said. “We have some returning companies as well; 33% of the employers who engaged with the Job Fair in the past are returning.”

But why have a job fair? 

“The value of being able to connect with employers is incredible. It gives students exposure to companies and organizations that they might not have considered,” said Beaupre-White

“Our goal is to make sure that every student has a pre-professional learning experience before they graduate. Internships are a wonderful way to do that, and 100 are on the job fair right now,” Duncan said. “Empowering students to see that they have jobs and internships in big-name companies is an incredible function of these virtual fairs. I believe in the future we will probably offer a combination of the two, both virtual and in person.”

Tiffany Ervin chimed in at this point with a student perspective emblematic of the event stating. 

“From a student point of view, taking advantages of these opportunities whether they’re in-person fairs or virtual they both are important. These are some of the most important years for professional development and a good time to be building these relationships with employers and networking,” she said. 

The link to the virtual job fair is posted on the Vermont State College website. Logos of businesses and opportunities pop up in droves after logging in. 

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