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Career Fair’s virtual transition no hindrance to student-employer connection

Pennsylvania College of Technology students embarked on a new approach to career exploration through the first-ever Virtual Career Fair. This Career Services-hosted event was held Oct. 20-21.

“Over the two days (for a period of 12 hours), 154 companies and 468 students connected through nearly 1,000 video chats – an impressive number of professional conversations in the pursuit of internship and career placement,” said Shelley Moore, director of career services.

Penn College’s career fairs have shown continued growth since 2009. The Spring 2020 Career Fair – slated to have more than 450 employers in attendance – had to be canceled due to the complexities of the coronavirus pandemic. Such complexities remained an obstacle as the plans commenced for Fall 2020.

“Limited event capacities made it impossible to have an in-person career fair that traditionally hosts more than 470 employers and 1,500-plus students,” said Erin Shultz, career events manager for the college. “Our priority goal was to quickly transition from an in-person to virtual format that would still offer a productive experience for students and employers. We chose the Symplicity platform because its one-to-one video chat format offered the closest option to an in-person career fair.”

The Virtual Career Fair provided students with the ability to explore and network directly with employers, engage in one-to-one video chats with hiring managers, easily access job postings, share their resumes and apply for jobs – all possible between classes and on any device. Employers had access to student profiles, resumes and could invite students to chat prior to and during the career fair.

Amanda Adams, director of human resources at Warfel Construction Co., shared of her experience: “Great event! I’ve done a few virtual career fairs so far this season and this platform has been the easiest to use with the least amount of training required for the attendees. That is important given the other priorities everyone has right now.”

Josh Rosenberger, a senior from Waynesboro, was grateful for the opportunity to meet with employers.

“The online format allowed me to learn about and focus on the employers I really wanted to talk to by providing the right tools and removing the distractions that the normal career fair would normally have,” Rosenberger said.

Hanna M. Gibson, of Allison Park, a residential construction technology and management and management major seeking an internship, shared: “I thought the Virtual Career Fair was a great substitute for the real thing. I was able to meet with all the employers I wanted and had no problems accessing their information. I also really liked the email sent afterwards that sent you the contact email for everyone I had talked to.”

“Symplicity was an incredibly powerful system designed to give the best experience in a virtual setting,” Shultz said.

Career Services continues to host a variety of in-person and virtual options for students and employers to connect.

The Penn College campus remains open, and students are attending classes with proper social distancing and masking protocols in place.

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