With many universities opting for online classes this fall, it’s no surprise that university career fairs and accounting Meet the Firms events will now be held virtually.
Similarly to traditional, in-person Meet the Firms events, students will still be able to connect with firms and have the opportunity to ask live questions, interact with firm representatives, and learn more about the firm or any openings that the firm may have.
There are many online platforms that universities can use to manage their virtual events, with Handshake — a career networking service — among the most popular. Handshake offers different formats of virtual events that firms can take advantage of. Depending on what type of virtual event format each firm decides to leverage, students will have the opportunity to attend virtual office tours, Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) Q&A sessions, employee panels, or Employee Resource Group sessions (ERGs).
Students will be able to register, using their school email, for a group and 1-on-1 sessions. A firm’s schedule might look something like this, while a student’s schedule will list the names of the firms or any one-on-one sessions:
When it comes time to join a session, students will click on the session title and will see a page where they can join the meeting. Handshake currently does not offer live-streaming, so if a firm’s session is live, i.e. not pre-recorded, then the student will be redirected to the firm’s live-streaming platform of choice, e.g. GotoMeeting, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, Instagram TV, WebEx, etc. More on this later!
Employers will be joining the sessions as a host where they will be able to share their screens, however, students will most likely not have the option to share theirs. For both group and individual sessions, employers and students will also have the ability to use the text-based chat functions during the call. A chat feature is a great place for students to ask employers any questions that they may have.
Some employers may filter which students will be able to sign up for their sessions based on student qualifications such as school year, GPA, major, or college. If an employer chooses to do so, all students will be able to see the session, but only those who are qualified will be able to sign up. Some employers may also make their session “Invite Only,” so only students who have been invited will be able to see and sign up for the session.
While Handshake offers a simple scheduling platform, universities may opt to use more advanced platforms to host their virtual Meet the Firms events. These advanced platforms virtually mimic an authentic exhibition hall, where attendees are able to navigate booths as if they were at the event in person. Some example screenshots below include images from Virtual Trade Show Hosting.
Firms can personalize their booth to their liking and can include any elements that they think may attract students’ attention. Students can click on a firm’s booth and download any information that the firm chooses to provide, like video introductions, flyers, and information sheets. Some firms may have the option for students to live chat or video chat with a representative. Others may invite you to attend an information session that they plan on hosting at a later time or date.
With all the different platforms in mind, students may experience one type, or both types of virtual recruiting, depending on what platform(s) your college or university chooses to use. Regardless, students should be prepared for any and all types of virtual Meet the Firms events. While navigating the unchartered waters of virtual career fairs, it’s normal to be nervous. But remember, the recruiters are there to meet you, so try to relax and have fun while you’re experiencing the event, knowing that this is new territory for everyone.
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