14 ways campus career offices are serving students during school closures: Ideas 1 to 5

With campuses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, career services teams have gotten creative about delivering programs virtually
By: | May 15, 2020
Transforming an in-person event such as an etiquette dinner into a virtual event required out-of-the-box thinking by Albright College's career services team.Transforming an in-person event such as an etiquette dinner into a virtual event required out-of-the-box thinking by Albright College's career services team.

In-person opportunities typically dominate campus career services offerings at colleges and universities. But as campuses closed this March, these teams had to pivot to a virtual-only model. Here are several actions to consider based on ways career services offices have been delivering services during the pandemic. Click on the links below for more ideas.

1. Organize virtual career fairs. Johnson & Wales University in Providence held its first virtual fair, connecting 377 students and 60 employers, in March, says spokesman Ryan Crowley. The event resulted in 705 career chats. Students entered queues and had a total of 705 career chats with company representatives in real time. The employer reps could view each student’s resume as they talked. A second virtual career fair was held in early May, with 350 students, 50 employers and 713 career chats. University of North Georgia also organized a virtual career fair, on May 19. Students could schedule a 15-minute timeslot with a recruiter via the Career Fairs Plus app, and then have the actual meeting on any platform, such as by phone, Skype or Google Hangout.

2. Prepare students deliberately for virtual events. Johnson & Wales’ Experiential Education & Career Services Office offered daily Skype sessions to teach the ins and outs of the virtual fair platform prior to rolling out its events. Students could walk through what the event would look like and receive guidance on preparing for it.

3. Invest in student professional development opportunities. The University of Houston-Downtown’s Career Development Center offers thousands of free courses from LinkedIn Learning to students, faculty, staff and alumni so they can develop new skills in a range of areas. Another provider of remote career-readiness and professional development tools is Upkey, a Chicago start-up.

4. Convert workshops and seminars to virtual events. For the California College of the Arts, this meant creating an End of Year Bootcamp webinar series featuring job search topics such as interviewing, resumes, portfolios and cover letters. The webinars happened live overs Zoom and were recorded for on-demand viewing from the Career Development office’s website.

Meanwhile, at Bentley University in Massachusetts, first-year students enrolled in CDI 101, its popular career development seminar, can continue with it online at their regularly scheduled time with their instructor online. For students in different time zones or who are otherwise unable to make it to the virtual class, recordings are also available.

5. Continue to dish out dining etiquette lessons. Albright College in Pennsylvania decided to take its “What the Fork” event virtual. Since the free meal typically serves as the reason students attend such events on campus, organizer Laura B.C. Kline knew she would have to draw in attendees to this BYO-dinner event with a great speaker. She arranged to get Callista Gould, a certified etiquette instructor and author of The Exceptional Professional: What you need to know to grow your career, to share her expertise. Gould combines useful tips with real-life examples and “defines etiquette as a way of making people around us feel comfortable, not as rules we must follow,” says Kline, director of career development and internships for Albright’s Experiential Learning and Career Development Center. For the fall, traditional events to turn virtual may include a graduate/professional school fair and a speed networking session.

See more virtual career services ideas.

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