Career and Professional Success (CaPS) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) offered two university-wide career fairs this semester to accommodate the variety of majors and career interests among the student body.
The Business, Communication & Social Services Career & Internship fair saw 211 UNH students and 85 organizations in attendance. The second career fair was the Biotech, Healthcare & STEM Career & Internship Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Students attended the fair by signing up for one-on-one or group video sessions with employers on Handshake.
The events were designed to help students fit the event into their schedules. The Business, Communication & Social Services fair occurred on a Friday when many students in the Paul College of Business and Economics (Paul) and the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) do not have classes. The Biotech, Healthcare & STEM fair is scheduled for a Wednesday night, a time when most College of Engineering Physical Science (CEPS) and College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) students are free. CaPS was also cognizant of industry recruiting timelines when scheduling the fairs. Many employers in the Biotech, Healthcare & STEM industries recruit later in the school year, which is why their event is later.
Although the fairs were scheduled with specific colleges in mind, any student from any major can attend either career fair. “Business is an industry that covers many different things that are not just for Paul students,” said Tyler Wentworth, director of marketing, communication, and engagement for CaPS.
“Major does not equal job for most industries,” Wentworth said. A lot of students use the skills set they have learned from their major in their job, he said. For example, a journalism student could use their writing skills in a technical business writing position.
CaPS designed two Google sheets to help students figure out which fair to attend. The first is a Fall 2021 UNH Fairs Job Roles Guides. This sheet lists all the jobs at both events, a link to a list of organizations recruiting for those jobs, and which fair each organization is attending.
The Fall 2021 Career & Internship Fairs Directory lists all the employers attending the fairs, which fair they are recruiting for, which industry they are recruiting in and more. Wentworth pointed out that this list includes whether employers are willing to sponsor international students.
CaPS also compiled resources with tips on how to attend virtual career fairs. Wentworth emphasized the importance of being prepared and testing your equipment before your sessions.
There was debate on whether to make the events in-person or virtual. CaPs used polls from both students and employers to aid this decision. In the end, the university organization decided in the spring that a virtual event would be the most accessible. “A large-scale event like this could possibility turn into a super-spreader event and limit the number of employers and students in attendance,” said Wentworth.
Students can access a virtual career fair from anywhere even if they are off-campus or in quarantine. Additionally, many employers still work virtually or have heavy restrictions on in-person events and travel. Before the pandemic, around 500 employee representatives would attend the CaPS career fair in the Whittemore Center. “We would be nowhere close to that number if we had an in-person fair this year,” said Wentworth.
With COVID-19 being around for over a year both students and employers have learned to recruit virtually. “The comfort level of students is much higher than it was last fall with an event like this,” said Wentworth. Employer recruiting teams also know how to work virtually, with many companies still recruiting strictly online.
CaPS is slowly returning to in-person events this fall and upcoming spring. The organization plans to start with small industry focused panels which require four off-campus guests instead of 500 like the campus wide career fairs used to require.