On Thursday, October 1, the College of Engineering will stage its Fall 2020 Engineering Virtual Career Fair from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Engineering students can connect with employers via one-on-one video chats and/or group drop-ins. UMass Amherst has invested in an innovative virtual career fair platform called Career Fair Plus, which will be utilized in the college’s computer-generated event on October 1.
Jason Wall, the director of the Engineering Career Development & Experiential Learning Center in the College of Engineering, says that virtual career fairs offer multiple benefits for UMass Amherst, the College of Engineering, and all our students during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“At first,” says Wall, “we thought virtual fairs were simply a temporary solution to get through COVID. However, now that we are planning our first one and have seen so many unexpected benefits, it is safe to say UMass students will continue to see virtual fairs even after social distancing restrictions are lifted. Although advantages like significant cost savings and reduced logistics make virtual fairs a real plus for the university, the true benefits are found in the student experience.”
Wall goes on to detail the student benefits. “First, by eliminating travel, any employer in the world can participate. This means more internships, co-ops, and full-time job opportunities for students. Second, being web-based, the exchange between student and employer can be simultaneously more efficient and robust.”
For example, as Wall says, one huge improvement is that the college can now offer employers the option to let students schedule a time to meet rather than having to stand in line. The new platform, Career Fair Plus, offers this functionality in its special “Skip the Line” module.
“As far as the exchange being more robust,” says Wall, “since students are participating via the app, they will have added their profiles and uploaded their resumes in advance. With these basics out of the way, the employer will already know things like each student’s major and work experience, and the student can already know what the company is all about and what it is hiring for.”
Wall concludes that “With these basics out of the way, both sides can immediately jump into a more substantive conversation.”
Career Fair Plus offers excellent functionality, including text chat, audio chat, and video chat in both a one-to-one and one-to-many formats.
As of late August, nearly 30 companies, institutions, and agencies had signed up to recruit students from the College of Engineering on October 1. Among those are: Analog Devices; Delsys, Inc; eClinicalWorks; ISO New England, Inc.; L3Harris Technologies; Marvell Semiconductor; MathWorks; MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; Raytheon Technologies; Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; STV, Inc.; TEC, Inc.; United States Postal Service; and 128 Technology.
Career Fair Plus will allow students and employers to connect via video in virtual drop-in rooms as well as in 10-minute meetings, which students can sign up for prior to the event. Consequently, UMass Amherst will be able to host all its career fairs virtually during the pandemic by utilizing this tool.
One of the greatest benefits of Career Fair Plus for employers is that the system “talks” to Handshake and Simplicity. When employing companies register for one of our fairs through either Handshake or Simplicity, the Career Fair Plus tool will save them time by pulling in all their pertinent information, a feature that will also help students decide which companies are appropriate for them.
UMass Amherst has reserved dates for a host of virtual career fairs for the 2020-2021 school year; with some being campus-wide, and others, including those staged by the College of Engineering, being college or major specific. (September 2020)