Virtual Career Fairs Make Job Hunting More Accessible

The STEM + Health and School of Business Career Fairs will bring job and internship opportunities to students wherever they are.

Virtual nursing
September 04, 2020

By Briahnna Brown

As George Washington University students settle into an online learning environment from their homes around the world, many will be looking for ways to take advantage of new remote and onsite internship and job opportunities.

Staci Fowler, director of employer services for the Center for Career Services, said that the center is starting career fairs earlier in the year because students could be anxious about finding jobs and internships in these uncertain times. Offering the fairs earlier helps to quell that anxiety, she said, and making the fairs virtual will allow more students to participate.

"While the current environment is challenging for internships and job searches in some industries, we are seeing the same number of participating employers and graduate schools that we had in fairs held in the spring. And we continue to see students and alumni sign up for the STEM + Health Career Fair, indicating our students are eager to find opportunities," Ms. Fowler said.

On the Handshake platform, the STEM + Health Career Fair will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, and the School of Business Career Fair will be held from noon to 3 p.m. EDT on Friday. The fairs are open to all GW students and alumni, and students with interests outside of STEM, health and business will also be able to find opportunities with employers and graduate schools at these fairs.

Several career fairs that Career Services will host this semester will be industry-focused but with opportunities for all students, Ms. Fowler said. Students tend to look for opportunities within specific industries, she said, and employers are looking to connect with students from across the university from a variety of majors. For example STEM and health-focused organizations are highly interested in students who are skilled in communication and social media.

For the virtual fairs, students have two options to engage with schools and employers, said Kelly Lawton, who conducts employer development for the health industry and is a nursing career coach for the Center for Career Services. Students can sign up for information sessions with organizations—which would be 30-minute video sessions through the Handshake platform to just listen and learn about the organization and available opportunities—and/or they can select one-on-one appointments with employers that are about 10 minutes each.

"The key is that students need to sign up for these in advance,” Ms. Lawton said. “There's just a bit more prep work on their part, but the great thing is they can kind of do both: get to know organizations as well as be proactive."

Many of the tips that work for any virtual event would be useful during the virtual fair as well, Ms. Lawton said, such as thinking about video background and attire. It also will be important for students to ask specific questions that show they have researched the company, such as inquiring about available positions or what you should be doing now to prepare to apply in the future.

"I don't think it will be the level of professional dress like a suit and tie, but you need a quiet, respectful place, and you need to show your interest,” Ms. Lawton said. “By doing that, you are going to ask really good questions—not just, 'what does your organization do,' but you've already done a bit of research."

Students should also read Handshake’s virtual guide, follow employers to get notifications of when a schedule or session has been added, and complete their Handshake profile because on that platform, the profile works like a resume and employers see that before the virtual sessions.

Registration is now open for the STEM + Health and GWSB fairs. Info sessions and one-on-one availabilities are being added up to the last minute, Ms. Lawton said, so students should continue to look out for those opportunities.

"Employers have the opportunity to continue adding one-on-one and information sessions up until the day of the fair. We recommend registrants continue to check Handshake to see what new sessions they may be interested in signing up for," she said.

Other career fairs this semester include:

●      Capital CoLab Fair: (Internships only; open to current GW students) 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT, Sept. 21.

●      Virtual Media, Journalism, & Public Affairs Virtual Networking Fair:  4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT, Oct. 20. Student registration opens Sept. 18.

●      Virtual Consortium Fair: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, Oct. 29. Student registration opens Sept. 28.

●      Virtual Government & Non-Profit Career Fair:  1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, Nov. 13. Student registration opens Oct. 12.

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