How can San José State students connect with potential employers during the COVID-19 health pandemic? In an era when students and recruiters can’t meet for an actual handshake, the San José State Career Center has leveraged the new career fair feature in Handshake, SJSU’s student career management platform, to host virtual career fairs.
More than 2,500 SJSU students have participated in six fairs since the fall 2020 semester began, according to Catherine Voss Plaxton, interim associate vice president of student services. The Career Center first offered virtual career fairs in the 2016-2017 school year. Also in that year, the team established career fairs for five, broad career pathways, offering possibilities for every major.
“By using Handshake, we can easily promote fairs to SJSU’s 9,200 local employers and the over 60 percent of undergraduate students who actively use the system,” said Voss Plaxton. “We were the first Bay Area campus to post a virtual career fair schedule and invite employers to recruit this fall.”
Students can access online resources to prepare for the virtual fairs, including job fair success webinars, individual career counseling appointments and access to VMock, an online resume-building tool. The Career Center also has offered four Employer Insights events with top employers to share advice for getting jobs at their companies. More than 175 students participated in a recent session that featured Microsoft representatives. Two additional Insights events are planned for fall 2020.
Shawn Klein, ’21 Human Resources Management, signed up for a one-on-one online meeting with Stacey Caceres, talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Holdings, during the Business, Logistics and Financial Services Virtual Job/Internship Fair on September 29.
“My experience was great,” said Klein, who works as a peer career advisor at SJSU and is looking for a job in HR. “I didn’t have to wait in any lines. I was able to get one-on-one time or a group session with everyone I needed to talk to. In the past, there were some employers I would’ve needed to wait 30 minutes just to speak to. Sometimes I never got the chance. To be able to set when you want to talk to someone and to see their availability helps save so much time. It gives you the ability to get face time with everyone. ”
Virtual fairs can make recruiting more convenient for employers as well. Zuleica Pena, ’15 Business Administration, who works in talent acquisition at the accounting firm PwC, attended a special Meet the Firms virtual event for accounting majors on September 17.
“We had a very positive experience with having Meet the Firms be virtual this semester,” said Pena. “The video platform was great quality and easy to use. The fact that student profiles were easy to access definitely made things run a lot smoother.”
More than 130 employers have participated in SJSU virtual career fairs this fall. According to exit surveys conducted by the SJSU Career Center, 60 percent of student attendees agreed or strongly agreed that the event helped them identify next steps to take in career preparation, while 74 percent recommended the virtual fairs to fellow SJSU students On November 3, Spartans can participate in a Graduate and Professional School Virtual Career Fair, a partnership between the College of Graduate Studies and the Career Center.