Career and Professional Success (CaPS) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) held the highly anticipated Career and Internship Fair last Wednesday, Oct. 7. More than 100 employers attended the fair, but unlike in past years, the fair was held virtually through Handshake instead of in person.
In an interview with The New Hampshire earlier this semester, Director of Marketing, Communication and Engagement Tyler Wentworth, and Director of Employer Relations Raina Sprague talked about their preparation and expectation for this event. However, most students did not know what to expect other than the virtual event “guide” that was sent in an email to all students from CaPS.
“Everything is different,” said Sophia Moe, a senior majoring in business administration with a dual option in finance and informational system and business analytics. She explained that in the past years, conversation with employers would be lengthier which would result in a higher chance of securing a job or an internship, but with a set interviewing time, it is difficult to do that.
Even though it was a virtual event, Moe said that her preparation for career and internship fairs has always been the same. “I always double check my resume, study about the companies that I would like to meet and be professionally dressed,” she said.
However, the 10 minutes allocated for one-on-one time was simply not enough for Moe. “I am a senior and I have to look for a job after I graduate,” justified Moe. Responding to the one thing that she would change, Moe said, “I wish I had more time, maybe 15 minutes instead?”
On the bright side, Moe was impressed with how everything went. “Employers actually did check my Handshake profile, and they’ve never done that, not that I know of,” she said. Moe added that having her one-on-one sessions with employers on Handshake has actually led her to making more connections with potential employers on professional social media platforms.
Environmental engineering student Garry Yapto was intrigued with the idea of the fair being done virtually and wanted to try it out. He explained, “I figured that the one-on-one session would be a quick way to bond with the employers.”
The whole experience felt strange for Yapto, mainly because he had never done a virtual one-on-one session with an employer before. In addition to that, Yapto also experienced some technical issue that disrupted him from focusing during the one-on-one session. “For some reason, the camera on my laptop wouldn’t show my face and even though I have a strong WiFi connection, it was a little bit laggy,” he added.
In terms of preparation, Yapto did what he would have exactly done for any interviews. But when asked about the one thing that he would change, he said that he would recommend the one-on-one session to be longer. “It is kind of short to introduce yourself, get to know the employers and actually talk about the company. I would say at least 20 minutes will be good,” he added.
All in all, Yapto described the fair as a “really good experience.” Though the 10-minute one-on-one is short, Yapto said that it actually allows students to get a good quality time with the employers. “It is not like the physical event where employers get distracted by other students or you’ll see one employer talking to three students,” he explained.
Matthias Page, an ocean engineering student, was one of the many students that chose not to attend the Career and Internship Fair this semester. Due to his intense academic schedule this semester, Page simply could not find a suitable time to attend the fair. “The online classes are taking a bulk of my time,” he added.
Additionally, Page also felt that the list of employers was not very diverse. “It is a decent list, but nothing for my major. It’s mostly geared towards mechanical and civil engineering students,” he added.
The number of students that attended the Career and Internship Fair had decreased but CaPS has been working on more initiatives to provide students the best experience for their professional development. Wentworth said that CaPS had already learned a lot in this semester, and he is optimistic that events in the spring semester will have different alternatives that will cater to all students. “One thing about the spring semester is that we will have a lot of options; if Plan A doesn’t work out, we have Plan B and so on,” said Wentworth in the previous interview.