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Stu­dents learn skills to prepare them for the future. Courtesy | Career Ser­vices

Career Ser­vices hosted its annual job fair vir­tually via Zoom from Sept. 28 — Oct. 7. These meetings launched the first of the “Virtual Recruitment Weeks,” where Career Ser­vices hosts employers vir­tually to provide stu­dents with job recruitment oppor­tu­nities. The program will last through the semester. 

Orga­ni­za­tions such as General Motors, the Her­itage Foun­dation, Forge Lead­ership Network, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Ser­vices hosted Zoom meetings at the virtual fair. During these hour-long meetings, employers out­lined recruitment time­lines and job oppor­tu­nities. The format varied from a slide show, to question and answer with current stu­dents, to interview-style.

 In pre­vious years, Career Ser­vices held an on-campus job fair where recruiters from across the nation pre­sented stu­dents with job oppor­tu­nities. Stu­dents could dis­cover employment options, network, share their resumes, and some­times have on-site inter­views for future intern­ships or employment. 

Career Ser­vices had to adapt to the climate of the uncertain 2020 job search. 

Sharon Kahn, assistant director of Career Ser­vices, said the department aimed to “kick­start the idea of seeking employment oppor­tu­nities vir­tually with a robust job fair.” 

But Zoom calls can only facil­itate the net­working process so much. According to junior Alexander Dulemba, “You can’t replace an in-person con­ver­sation with someone from a company. Even over a Zoom call, it’s just not the same.”  

Career Ser­vices recorded all of the meetings so stu­dents with other com­mit­ments during the fair could watch them later, but stu­dents who missed the actual meeting lost the oppor­tunity to interact with recruiters. 

“This year, it is more cum­bersome for stu­dents to find employment oppor­tu­nities because they have to scour Hand­shake and ini­tiate the net­working process them­selves,” Khan said. “It’s not available to them like it was at the fair.” 

The virtual inter­viewing process is also unfa­miliar to stu­dents. They have to keep factors like tech­nology, a pro­fes­sional setting, and eye contact on video in mind. 

However, there is a benefit to virtual recruitment: no travel cost. 

“Stu­dents do not have to actually travel to the employer, and employers are very willing to come vir­tually and talk to stu­dents,” Kahn said. 

 Upper­classmen are most impacted by this new job search. Many had summer intern­ships that were can­celed, and employers have scaled back or frozen their hiring. 

“I was applying for research expe­ri­ences at other col­leges throughout the U.S., but because of COVID-19, they were all can­celed or post­poned until next summer,” said Dulemba. 

For­tu­nately, Dulemba was able to com­plete a remote physics research project pro­vided by Timothy Dolch, assistant pro­fessor of physics. Not everyone is so lucky, however, making the job search that much more intim­i­dating. 

 Career Ser­vices will con­tinue to host employers vir­tually and on-campus throughout the rest of the aca­demic year. Addi­tionally, Khan said Hillsdale’s vast network helps stu­dents succeed in finding employment. 

“Employers that have tra­di­tionally hired Hillsdale stu­dents are reaching out to the college,” she said. “We have so many net­works and alumni who would love to help seniors looking for a job.”