Fall Virtual Career Fairs for Universities - Webinar Summary
Three panelists began using Brazen before COVID-19, and one panelist began using Brazen because of the pandemic, but all four panelists agree there are benefits of going virtual even when the crisis ends. In other words, they plan on using virtual career fairs regardless of what happens with the crisis and stay-at-home.
Here’s how these leaders in higher education are using virtual events and how it’s made a difference to their students, faculty, alumni, and employers.
- Lori Shreve Blake - Senior Director, Alumni & Student Career Services at University of Southern California
- John Cardillo - Assistant Director of Career Services at NYU Tandon School of Engineering
- Bradley de Wet – iScholars Program Coordinator at Virginia Tech
- Annie Suffredini - Assistant Director of Career Services at NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Thinking back to when you were thinking of going virtual, were there hesitations from your team or from exhibitors?
The overall consensus from the group was that while there were some stakeholders who had some hesitations, all of those hesitations were unfounded. Two panelists mentioned there weren’t any hesitations at all and they were ready to jump both feet in with virtual because the benefits were so apparent. Lori said that some of the employers were hesitant because they previously had bad experiences with other virtual career fair software, but she assured them that the Brazen platform was unlike any other. At Virginia Tech, Bradley ran into some concerns about virtual events taking away from the in-person event experience but believes virtual and in-peron can live in harmony. It is not one or another.
How does a virtual career fair platform like Brazen compare to a video conferencing tools like Zoom, WebEx, and webinars?
Overall, our panelists spoke to the efficiency, effectiveness and overall superior experience of using a virtual career fair software over video conferencing tools.
“We liked that it put everyone under one virtual roof. Brazen was like a one-stop-shop where you could see all the employers’ logos and what to click on.” - Annie Suffredini
“There are plenty of tools that let people chat, or let people talk [through] video. But you have to consider all the elements wrapped around how you get people there, how easy and how enjoyable [the] experience [is], [and then how you follow up with candidates]. For instance, with Brazen you can easily create a landing page that helps market the event (the hardest part about running a virtual event!).” - Bradley de Wet
What are the main benefits of a virtual career fair platform?
Panelists agreed that one of the major benefits of a virtual career fair platform is that it gives your students an abundance of options when it comes to finding that next great job by connecting them with employers. Panelists also mentioned that virtual career fairs allow students to interact with recruiters in a less stressful environment, give students the ability to participate in events off-campus (study abroad, at home, etc.), and elimiate cancellations due to bad weather.
Bradley also mentioned that he’s seen this benefit his students who have more narrow interests or are in smaller degree programs. There were too few students to justify having a recruiter travel to Blacksburg, Virgina (where Virginia Tech is located). Now, with virtual events, those students have more opportunities.
How else have you used Brazen or what are some other ways you are planning to use Brazen within your university?
Panelists mentioned that the career services team can use Brazen to meet with students at night. Many schools have found that this is a good time for students with their class and work schedules, but difficult to get staff to return to the office. With Brazen, staff can meet with students from their own homes, a much lighter ask!
The platform is optimal for engaging alumni office through virtual networking sessions, which is great given how spread out alumni are, and many schools have seen academic departments hold events for incoming freshmen to answer questions about the different programs offered.
“We had 1,000 incoming students attend a ‘preview day’ with the college of engineering, where all the departments set up their own booths, held webinar presentations, and students got to ask questions. It was wildly successful!” - Bradley de Wet
“This fall, we’re going to use it for our work study fair, grad school fair, and study abroad fair.” - Lori Shreve Blake
How have you monetized Brazen? Are you charging employers for booths?
“Our operating budget for the career center comes from hosting career fairs…and we have great student turn out at events, so we decided to charge employers more if they send less recruiters.” -Lori Shreve Blake
Annie justified charging employers because the university was footing the bill for the virtual career fair platform. She says they have not run into any negative feedback from employers for charging.
Keep in mind that with college sports being compromised this fall, there may be companies looking for new ways to advertise and sponsor events.
What does the future look like for virtual and in-person events once things return to “normal”?
“If there’s anyone online who has an international operation, Brazen was a solution for us that we’ll continue to use it here in the states, as well as overseas.” - Lori Shreve Blake, who has seen how successful the platform has been with their career center in China.
“Virtual is definitely here to stay. Offering students the opportunity to engage with employers wherever they are, on campus, at home, or studying abroad, is very important.” - John Cardillo
What advice would you give to a University forced with picking a partner now under time constraints and stress? What should they look for in a partner or technology?
Two panelists bring up the importance of user interface and a modern look and feel that’s appealing to both students, employers, and career department users. Support is another key piece to assess: how responsive and helpful will the partner be if you run into trouble? Beyond support, your partner should be a wealth of knowledge for best practices with these types of events. We recommend a choosing a technology with an experienced team who knows how to make these events as seamless and successful as possible.
“Also evaluate how much work it takes for you to do a successful event. A tool that does the work for you is much better than one that requires you to put a ton of time and energy into making that work for you.” - Bradley de Wet
“For our senior leadership, it was a no-brainer. Students and parents are going to be looking for a return on investment. It’s important to keep delivering career programming in this environment.” - Annie Suffredini