Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier staff writer
On Feb. 23, the Berry Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) held a virtual career and internship fair. This was the third of five virtual fairs that the CPPD has held during the 2020-21 school year. Students were able to sign up for either group or individual sessions with the various employers that were in attendance.
71 students registered to attend the fair, and due to this being one of the first virtual fairs that Berry has held, there aren’t many other metrics to compare the attendance to. According to Mark Kozera, the Director of Employer Engagement with the CPPD, the student attendance was much lower than previous in-person fairs. There were 62 registered employers which is consistent with what CPPD used to have with the in-person fairs.
In previous years the in-person fair has been held in the Krannert Center. Students were able to walk up to however many booths they were able to in a given time and have a conversation with the employers that were set up. However, this year students had to sign up before the event for either a group session or a one-on-one session with a particular employer of their choosing and at a specific time. Of the 71 students who registered, only 43 students participated. There were 33 sessions in total.
“You had to register in advance and actually research the companies and then sign up for a session,” Kozera said.
This isn’t the first virtual fair that CPPD has held. During the fall semester, CPPD held a graduate school fair, and on Feb. 4 they held a summer camp job fair. On Feb. 22, Sue Tarpley, Director of Career Development, held a nursing fair.
CPPD used the Handshake platform to conduct the virtual fair. Since Handshake has held multiple career fairs for other schools, there were very few technology-related issues. According to Kozera, the only real issues came from employers who were not as tech-savvy resulting in them waiting longer than expected to establish times at which students could sign-up to meet with an employee representative. At the end of the fair, CPPD received a printout that showed data such as how many conversations were had and with which companies.
Kozera hopes to make use of the virtual fairs in future years for niche employment groups. In previous years, employers had to come all the way to Berry, set up a booth, and then take it all down later in the day. This would create a day or two of travel. Due to the fairs being held online, it is more convenient for employers to attend Berry events and talk with students. Kozera noted that graduate school fair hosted several schools that normally wouldn’t attend but were able to do so because of the virtual nature of the fair.
“There’s a role for [a virtual fair] and a place for it,” Kozera said. “It’s not going to go away. I don’t think we want it to go away, but use it in combination with the more traditional in-person offering that we hope to be back next year.”
The next career event that the CPPD is hosting will be on March 5. It will be a teacher recruitment fair. Students with additional questions about career fairs or concerns regarding career development are encouraged to visit the CPPD office in Krannert Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.