Fall Career Fair to connect students, employers virtually

Author: Alysa Guffey

Students meet with employers at the 2019 Fall Career Fair. The annual fair, hosted by the Meruelo Center for Career Development, will be offered in a virtual format this year to protect students and employers.

This week, the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development will host its annual Fall Career Fair through virtual platforms as part of a larger Career Fair Week.

The fair will take on the new format this year due to safety concerns and companies’ restrictions on traveling, associate vice president for career and professional development Ryan Willerton said in an email. Events will primarily be held over Handshake with some over Zoom.

Willerton said the center recognized back in March that restrictions might lead to the fair being pushed online and made the decision after consulting with recruiting partners and other college career centers.

“Traditional recruiting often requires employers to travel, and many companies have implemented travel restrictions,” Willerton said.

Annie Smierciak

Students meet with employers at the 2019 Fall Career Fair. The annual fair, hosted by the Meruelo Center for Career Development, will be offered in a virtual format this year to protect students and employers.

Anna Bowman, a junior currently spending the semester at home, said she is excited to be able to participate in the career fair despite not residing on campus.

“I’m happy that I still have the chance to attend the career fair and network this year, but I’m a bit nervous about how the sessions will actually go,” Bowman said in a text message.

A finance and anthropology double-major, Bowman said she registered for several one-on-one slots with various financial companies to look into internships.

Senior business analytics major Natalia Gomez-Botero said her primary reason for attending the career fair is to seek full-time employment following graduation. She said she sees benefits and drawbacks to the online fair.

“I think it’s unfortunate that you don’t get to be face to face with someone to make a good impression, but I think the format of signing up for slots to specifically talk to someone can assure that you have that time, and I think that’s nice,” Gomez-Botero said.

Normally held on a singular day, the Fall Career Fair will be offered as a week-long event running Sept. 11 to 17. Willerton said that as of Sept. 9, 250 employers had registered to be a part of the week compared to a total of 208 employers present at last year’s fair.

“Given that 2020 is a very different economic situation, we are excited to welcome a number of new employers to recruit our students,” Willerton said. “To us, these registration numbers further validates what we already know — employers truly see the talent and value Notre Dame students can offer their organizations.”

Students could sign up for group sessions or one-on-one conversations with employers based on their individual preferences or needs. Graduate students and seniors were permitted to sign up first. Even though space for some employers filled up quickly, Willerton said students are encouraged to check space every day for a certain employer.

The fair will also include a diversity and inclusion event to allow students to meet with employers committed to these values. Willerton said the event reached its capacity of 100 employers.

“Our staff has heard that diversity is a priority for employers, and this was certainly the case,” Willerton said. “Acknowledging that diversity extends beyond gender, race and ethnicity, all undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to participate in this new event.”

Willerton said contrary to popular belief, less than 25% of full-time employment is secured through career fairs. He said career fairs serve other purposes such as helping students learn about internships and a variety of career paths.

Many students attend the career fair to experience the hiring process and gain interview experience through a casual setting. Yet, this year feels more intimidating to some, including sophomore Maggie Lenhart, who said she was on the fence but wants to gain experience.

“I want to see how upperclassmen who are really focused on getting their first jobs are interacting with the employers because I’m learning what skills employers are looking for,” Lenhart said.