Hundreds of students are now out of work. Many of them were recently laid off from their internships as companies have transitioned to operating remotely in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Others are struggling with applying to internships as companies continue to cancel internship programs.
But that doesn’t stop the Career Center. Despite Seton Hall canceling all in-person events for the rest of the semester, the Center is continuing its services to students online, including its semesterly Career Fair.
“Once we knew the original event had to be canceled, we had many discussions about what we were going to do,” Reesa Greenwald, director of the Career Center, said. “It seemed obvious that somehow, first of all, the primary importance to us is getting students connected to recruiters.”
The fair, which was originally scheduled to take place a week after the University canceled in-person classes, was postponed and rescheduled for April 15. The difference: the fair will operate on a virtual platform between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The event is open to current SHU students and alumni. Recruiters will reserve time slots throughout the day during which they will be available to speak with students and host live chat sessions.
Matthew DiBartolomeo, Manager of University Relations for Hackensack Meridian Health, said while a digital event is definitely a break from the traditional format of a career fair, the new format is not a wholly worse experience, and in fact, could provide students with additional advantages.
“I think students with the virtual career fair have more of an opportunity to really ask a lot of questions because they have a chance to prepare more instead of talking to someone face-to-face where they may not ask as many questions or they might forget to ask a question,” DiBartolomeo said. “But at a virtual career fair—and that’s the benefit that it offers—the students can almost ask as many questions as they want, and there may be a time limit but you can often extend the time to talk about what you’re interested in.”
DiBartolomeo, who will be attending the virtual event, said that in his experience, digital career fairs are no different than in-person opportunities when it comes to the benefits of being ready to make the most of a discussion with a recruiter.
Greenwald said any students planning to attend the Career Fair should prepare and utilize the resources available to them. Although in-person appointments are no longer possible, she said, the staff at the Career Center are still available for appointments made through Compass.
“The career advisors are available during the same work hours as we always are,” Greenwald said. “We can share screens so we can look at your resume while we are talking. We can communicate back and forth on anything that anybody needs.”
Her advice to everyone: keep networking. “Let us help you with recruiters, with alumni who can help you and stay connected with us so that we can help you connect with the professional world,” she said.
Greenwald added that while she has always told students how essential in-person interaction was to make a good first impression, this opportunity to network should be embraced. She said the event now has the potential to be attended by even more recruiters and encouraged every student to join.
Erin Beik, a junior marketing major, is planning to attend the virtual Career Fair and said she is hoping she can connect with people the same way she would have in-person on campus and that they are still willing to hire students.
“This situation has been really hard to cope with and sometimes makes me feel like no matter what I do this situation is out of my hands,” Beik said.
Beik, like many other students, has been applying to internships that ultimately resulted in being canceled over the summer. She is still waiting to hear back from one company that decided to push back its decision by about a month.
Beik is not giving up. She’s still networking on LinkedIn, staying positive and applying for any internships she can find. She said the best advice she can give to other students is “to stay positive and remember that this situation is out of our control and this all happens for a reason.”
She said, “Even though the most amazing opportunities are being taken away right now, it will all make sense eventually. I think employers will understand when looking at our resumes in the future that everyone was in this together, it’s not like we’re being lazy but just this is such unprecedented territory.”
Students can register and receive more information about the Virtual Career Fair by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liam Brucker-Casey can be reached at email@example.com. Liam Oakes is a contributor to this story and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.