The 30th annual “WorkForce 2021: Jobs, Internships & Graduate Schools Fair” will be held virtually via Handshake on Thursday, March 4, from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Career Center and Wisconsin Independent Private College Consortium (WIPCCC), aims to provide opportunities for students and alumni at Wisconsin Private Colleges, University of Wisconsin Schools and Wisconsin Technical Colleges to connect with potential employers or graduate schools.
On the day of the fair, students will meet with the organizations via Handshake at their assigned time, according to Assistant Director of Employer and Alumni Relations Mandy Netzel. There will be 104 employers and 47 schools available for students, including CVS Health, City Year and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. A complete listing of the attending organizations can be found on Handshake.
According to Netzel, students can register for the Virtual Career Fair via their Handshake account by selecting the “Career Fairs” option under the “Events” tab. Once students register for the fair, they will also need to register for the group or one-on-one sessions separately with any employer, non-profit organization or graduate school that they would like to meet.
Netzel acknowledges the differences between holding a career fair in person and via a virtual platform. The virtual setting allows students to expand their reach without physically traveling, Netzel said; now, students can simply join from wherever they are and commit to a shorter time frame. However, unlike a fair with physical settings, students will not be able to walk up and engage in unprompted conversations with the organizations. Instead, students have to plan out who they are meeting with ahead of time.
Junior Gabe Chambers, who attended the Virtual Career Fair in October of 2020, said he gained lots of useful information from the panelists and networked with people who work in industries in which he has a career interest. Chambers looks forward to the upcoming fair, as he wants to continue his networking process and practice his professional skills.
“This fair was different from an in-person fair because of the lack of in-person networking and connection due to social-distancing,” Chambers said. “However, via Zoom, some aspects were replicated, which made a successful career fair … [Also,] people are able to connect at any location, [and] it’s easier to follow up via email and LinkedIn.”
Jose Torres, Regional Recruitment Manager of City Year, is excited about the upcoming fair, which will give him the opportunity to connect with students from Lawrence University. Torres has been recruiting on campus for about four years, and he loves being able to chat with students who are interested in service work and whose values align with City Year’s.
“Every year, we get about five to six applicants to our program and go off to different parts of the country to serve as tutors or mentors,” Torres said. “I get excited because I did the program, and I know the impact our applicants will have but also what they will learn from our experience!”
Before attending the event, Netzel said that students should prepare their “elevator pitch,” which is a short description of who they are and what they would like to do in their careers. Students should also research the organizations that they are meeting ahead of time, understand what they do and prepare a few questions for the employers.
Netzel also encourages students to attend the fair for their potential interests and future connections.
“Try it! You never know who you might talk to that will spark an interest outside of anything you’ve thought about before,” Netzel said. “If you’re uncomfortable, just reach out to the Career Center, and we’ll walk you through it.”