Virtual Career Fair with Northeast Iowa Community College

The fall out of the pandemic has placed a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to career outcomes for higher education students. With so many businesses closing, students have to face the uphill battle of securing gainful employment in one of the most challenging new graduate job markets. Now more than ever, it is important for higher education to double down on effective career services for their students.

Career fairs can be effective venues for creating new relationships between employers with students. Unfortunately, the pandemic has driven many schools to cancel these important events. We’ve had several progressive schools reach out to us because they want to figure out what they can do to recreate the career fair experience virtually for their students. It may initially seem like a daunting task for event planners, but as more schools deploy and experience online career fairs, they realize it’s much easier to organize than they initially thought. They also realize a virtual career fair can introduce new conveniences and benefits for both students and employers.

For example, a number of schools Acadiate works with are attracted to virtual career fairs to enable distant employers to participate in their career fairs, that otherwise may not. As a general rule of thumb, schools can get a much greater participation rate of employers that are over 50 miles distant from the campus to participate in virtual events than on-campus events.

Many career service departments in universities and colleges are hesitant to organize a virtual event because it is challenging to envision how it would work versus their experience with in-person, campus run events.

This fall, Acadiate worked with the Northeast Iowa Community College to deploy a simple career fair to initially introduce them to the concept and the technology. Challenged by social distancing measures they wanted to go virtual and focused on Acadiate based on its special expertise working in higher education.

The school wanted to keep the event more narrowly focused on their highly regarded Industrial Technology programs where their graduates are in high demand and employers want to have access to graduates as early as possible. The focus of the employers was connecting with potential students from the Auto Mechanics, Diesel Mechanics and CNC Machinist programs.

The challenge for Chris Entringer, a Career Services Coordinator & Enrollment Advisor at Northeast Iowa Community College, “Many of the employers have been asking for the opportunity to engage our student’s with a career fair, so we had been wanting to do something, but were unsure how to implement with our limited resources and technical experience”.

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The creation and deployment of any virtual event with Acadiate is easy and often is quicker to deploy than other virtual event platforms. “I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to create the booth for each company. Many of the employers participating do not have websites, so I just requested they provide any digital assets they may have such as photos, brochures, company videos and branding texts.” Said Stephanie Dennler, Recruitment and Work-Based Learning Program Manager, Business and Community Solutions Operations, Northeast Iowa Community College “I assembled their booths on their behalf with a Zoom video link provided by the school for those employers wanting a live meeting. It was simpler than I thought, it was all created within a few hours”.

They had 8 highly relevant companies participate from across the state who networked with the students. “It was a huge success,” said Stephanie, “Acadiate is a great product and looked cool!  We found the platform was very efficient, and the support was great to work with. I feel as if I will be losing a few great coworkers now that the project is completed!”