On Oct. 9, ETSU will host a virtual career and graduate school fair for all students. The event, which takes place entirely online, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is also open to students at other area schools.
This type of career fair will be a first for ETSU and the idea was essentially born out of necessity. Construction on the D.P. Culp University Center meant that the university wouldn’t have the space on campus to hold their typical, large-scale job fair.
“In an effort to still be able to offer a career fair to students, this option came to me because I had done it before through the State University of New York system, and I’d worked with them [CareerEco] at least twice,” said Jeffrey Alston, Director of University Career Services.
The virtual fair, is open to students and alumni from every major and degree. It will also feature a variety of companies as well as grad schools from the Northeast Tennessee area, as well as the rest of Tennessee and other states.
”A lot of times the more traditional recruitment events are just going to pull from a more immediate area, whereas this is actually going to be a broader reach,” said Gayle Oliver-Plath, CEO/Founder of CareerEco.
One major benefit of a virtual career and grad school fair, is that it helps give students the ability to connect with organizations they might have otherwise missed, or hadn’t heard of.
“[The organizations] very often have to make choices on where they can go physically and limit the number of places they can go physically because it’s just price-prohibitive,” said Oliver-Plath.
While the lower costs of a virtual career fair are a big benefit, it’s also a major time-saver for organizations and universities. Most organizations will be present for the entirety of the five-hour time frame, and those organizations with reduced hours will be present during prearranged time-slots. Students who register as candidates will be sent reminders about the schedule prior to the event, and the schedule is also posted on CareerEco’s website.
While the benefits to hosting an event like this online are numerous, there are also some drawbacks, though it depends on your definition of a drawback.
“The disadvantage is the student [not] being able to practice that formal exchange of shaking hands, or putting together that elevator pitch to really introduce themselves,” said Alston.
Of course, there’s two sides to everything, and this is no different. While you may not be able to make that traditional first impression, Alston noted that an event like this could give people who may deal with anxiety or live too far away a reason to participate.
”It sometimes can block or tear down some barriers, but at the same time it can create some barriers,” he said.
Accessibility, however, is not one. One big positive for Allston, is that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’re able to access the career and grad school fair remotely. It can be accessed from home, in between classes or whenever students have time available.
”The accessibility piece is a great part about this, that [students] can have conversations and still come out with a similar outcome as if it was a telephone interview or a Skype interview,” Alston said, a sentiment echoed by CareerEco’s Oliver-Plath.
“It’s just so flexible,” Oliver-Plath. “You can literally be in the event from wherever you might be … There’s a degree of accessibility that’s just tremendous to people,” said Oliver-Plath.