Luddy's fall 2020 career fair took place in the virtual realm.
Unusual times call for flexibility. The good news is adapting is a strength of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
The Luddy School held its Fall 2020 Virtual Career Fair Sept. 10, connecting 1,140 students with 72 employers to create pathways to future careers and internships. Luddy’s Career Fairs usually are held at the Monroe Convention Center in Bloomington, but the COVID-19 pandemic moved the event to the virtual realm via the Handshake system.
“The Virtual Career Fair was great because it made safety a priority and accommodated the majority of employers who are only recruiting virtually this semester,” said Carleigh Hannon, senior associate director of career services and the organizer of the event. “We focused on education and communication about our new system ahead of the event, and everything in our control went as planned. It allowed students to maximize their time. Students spent 10 minutes with a recruiter, allowing them to be strategic in their talking points. There was also the benefit of knowing you’re one-on-one with a recruiter and can focus during that time instead of looking around at peers as fellow candidates.”
The Luddy Career Services office prepared students for the event with the Career Jumpstart Series that was hosted by peer advisors on Instagram covering topics focused on ways for students to jumpstart their career in tech. Students also participated in mock career fairs in Handshake to practice for the event, allowing them to become comfortable with a new system.
“I enjoyed the Virtual Career Fair,” said Sarah Hayes, a junior studying informatics who was pursuing a summer internship for 2021. “I liked how it was up to me to have a successful day, including registering before the event, signing up for my preferred type of session, researching the employers, and planning where I would take the video calls.”
The event also featured 85 group sessions, which lasted 30 minutes and featured up to 50 people. Employers also liked the new format thanks to support provided by the Career Services office, while some students enjoyed being able to reserve 1-on-1 sessions with employers in advance, allowing them to hone their elevator pitches ahead of time for online sessions.
“The candidates were quite impressive, both in terms of their academic records as well as their presentations during the one-on-one sessions,” said Doug McDaniel, the president of Scientia, a Bloomington-based company that produces outreach research publications. “Most were aware of our company's work, having at least visited our website prior to the one-on-one sessions. The main purpose of our participation in this career fair was to identify and connect with prospective candidates who would contribute to our company’s mission, and I found the Luddy Virtual Career Fair to be very worthwhile.”
The Career Jumpstart Series will continue on Instagram with episodes focused on career tips for younger students, being an international student at Luddy, highlighting women in technology, and more. The next career fair will also take place in the virtual realm in February 2021.
“I’m so proud of how Luddy students transitioned so well to Handshake as both a new career services system and a virtual fair platform in such a short time,” Hannon said. “There was a learning curve for everyone, but the virtual fair platform was being developed in real-time, and employers were eager to view it in action. Considering the challenges everyone faced, the Virtual Career Fair was a success.”
A total of 3,563 unique student-employer connections were facilitated during the career fair. The spring career fair will be held in February 2021 and will once again be held in virtually.
“The challenges of recent months have impacted many things, including the way we support students in their career development,” said Jodie Sackley, director of career services at Luddy. “Although our career advising appointments, courses, and events have shifted to a virtual format, one thing remains the same: Luddy Career Services is here to support students as they realize their career potential.”