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.”