What to Expect at the Virtual Career Fair: Advice from a Fellow Student

Image of a young woman monica orona
Monica Orona, MCAS ’21

As we prepare for another academic year, we have a lot on our minds: buying textbooks, move-in plans, and navigating campus life under a “new normal.” With all of this in mind, you might not have given the upcoming career fair much thought (or any at all). 

You may be wondering what the job or internship search will look like this fall. Fear not, the Career Center has worked diligently this summer to deliver a fulfilling, albeit virtual, experience for both students and employers, including the Virtual Fall Career and Internship Fair. 

A virtual fair is more intuitive than it sounds. I had the opportunity to participate in a mock virtual fair over the summer and I am here to help you walk through what to expect and provide you with tips to succeed. 

What to Expect:

Essentially, students can sign-up for group and individual sessions with employers on Handshake. These sessions are held over Handshake’s video platform. There are 30-minue group sessions where recruiters present information to interested students as well as 10-minute one-on-one sessions with recruiters. 

You will need to register for these sessions in advance. Registration is first-come, first-served! It’s important to note that you can only sign-up for one time slot at a time.—while there may be multiple group or individual sessions at 1:00 p.m., you may only register for and attend one of them. Attendance is limited for these sessions, so it is important that you select only the ones you fully intend on attending. 

Group and individual sessions will be conducted on Handshake. Once it is time to join the sessions you registered for, the video interface is remarkably similar to Zoom. Here are things to keep in mind: 

  • You can mute yourself but only the host can unmute you
  • There is not a raise hand feature, but there is a chat feature
  • If you have a question during the group session, feel free to put it in the chat. Be aware that everyone can see what you write; you cannot send a message to a particular recruiter or fellow attendee. You can directly ask a recruiter a question on the call but be respectful of everyone’s time—make it short and sweet. 
  • You can join any session before the recruiter arrives on the call. 

Tips to Prepare:

  • Complete Your Handshake Profile. Your profile will be visible to employers as soon as you register for sessions (group and individual). Therefore, make sure to have it as updated and polished as possible a few days leading up the fair. Follow this step-by-step guide that shows you how to set-up your Handshake profile. Remember: your profile is an employer’s first impression of you, so make sure you make a positive one!  
  • Do Your Research. While an employer will have your profile readily available when you register (they have a link that says “view profile” on the sessions you registered for), students do not have that same option. Therefore, make sure you research the company beforehand and take notes on their mission statement, the industries they specialize in, and the roles available. This leaves more time for you to ask in-depth questions (have these prepared as well) and will give the recruiter the impression that you are well prepared (which you are).

In conclusion, there will be many things out of your control this semester but how you prepare for the career fair and your career development in the long-term is in your control. Feel free to schedule an appointment with career coaches or attend drop-in hours to have your materials reviewed by a Peer Career Coach (like myself!)

—By Monica Orona, MCAS ’21, Peer Career Coach

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