Career Services holds virtual employment fair

Students attend an in-person employment fair in October 2019. Vanguard Photo | Karlee Gourd

Career Services held its virtual Fall Employment Fair for students on Oct. 16.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Career Services has had to move employment fairs online this semester.

“This will be our third virtual employment fair … of this year,” said Thomas Barnikow, the interim associate director of Career Services. “The pandemic has forced us to adapt, and we feel like we have done a pretty good job of providing students with the same type of opportunities we would in a normal academic year, albeit in an electronic environment.”

With the fair being online, registration was a little different compared to in-person fairs.

“Virtual employment fairs are offered through Handshake, which powers our Cardinal Career Network,” Barnikow said. “Employers register their attendance, and students are able to see every employer that has registered through Handshake.”

He explained that employers set up sessions for students to attend.

“The employers will open a schedule to students, which will allow the students to select whether they want to schedule a one- on-one or group session with an employer,” he said. “It is then the student’s responsibility to preregister for the employment fair and schedule their sessions in advance of the fair starting.”

Despite the virtual format, over 150 students registered for the event.

Barnikow said conducting employment fairs virtually can cause additional challenges for students.

“Face-to-face, in-person interaction allows the student to project body language, which is an important part of the interview as well,” he said.

Another challenge for students is that they need to sign up for virtual sessions ahead of time instead of just simply walking into an event on campus.

“The difference between virtual and in-person is that you have to schedule sessions during a virtual employment fair instead of having an ‘open booth’ concept during an in-person employment fair, where you can walk up and start having a conversation at your leisure,” Barnikow said.

Although virtual fairs may pose some extra obstacles for students, they actually provide numerous benefits, Barnikow explained. One benefit was ease of access to employers for SVSU students from anywhere around the state of Michigan.

“No matter if you are living on-campus or off-campus, you will be able to meet with employers from wherever you are comfortable,” Barnikow said. “If you want to guarantee that you meet with an employer, you can do that in a virtual environment. An employer might be very popular during an in-person event, and you might not have a chance to meet with them directly.”

Through fairs, students can make connections in their fields and meet with prospective employers.

“This is a student’s opportunity to meet directly with employers,” Barnikow said. “Our employer registration numbers for employment fairs have been increasing every year because the number one way employers are recruiting students is through face-to-face interaction. While virtual fairs do not offer quite the same environment as an inperson event, an employer can still see your face and a get a better feel for your personality than they can if you were simply to submit your resume on- line through their website.”

Companies from many different industries were in attendance at the fall fair, including Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Dow, Frankenmuth Insurance, Hemlock Semiconductor, Magliner, MidMichigan Health, Nexteer Automotive, Quicken Loans, Walmart and Wolverine Human Services.

Students who are interested in getting in touch with an employer but were unable to attend the fair are encouraged to set up an appointment with Career Services.

Students can call (989) 964-4953 or email ca- to schedule an appointment.

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