The UF Career Connections Center’s popular Career Showcase event was almost unrecognizable this Fall.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the CCC team decided in March to hold the annual career fair in a hybrid format, with both in-person and virtual components, said Ja’Net Glover, CCC senior director. The event occurred over four days instead of the normal two to comply with social distancing requirements.
Recruiters were given a choice on whether they wanted to attend UF’s annual two-day career fair virtually, in-person or a mix of both, according to the CCC website. About 180 companies chose to attend online and only 19 recruiters opted to have face-to-face meetings and presentations with students.
While in the past students were able to show up in-person without making appointments, this year appointments were required for both in-person and virtual meetings, Glover said. Students can expect more virtual components added to future CCC events.
Donna De Castro, a 20-year-old UF industrial and systems engineering junior, attended virtually on the third day of the showcase. None of the in-person companies appealed to her interests.
“The only thing I would say I miss is being able to talk to recruiters in-person. I think my personality shows more when I’m able to speak to recruiters face-to-face because the conversation feels more natural,” she said. “However, I wouldn’t say I’d prefer it.”
Despite the limiting circumstances, more than 10,000 meetings were scheduled by students to speak with representatives from different companies looking to hire students for internships, part-time jobs and full-time jobs, Glover said.
While usually there are between 350 and 415 companies present, this year there were 200. Glover believes this number is similar to one the center would expect during an economic recession.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to the new virtual format, said Shruti Labh, a 19-year-old UF information systems sophomore. She attended four recruiter appointments with P&G, Deloitte, EY, Pepsi and Cintas. In addition to the appointments, she attended other group presentations virtually with Gartner, Accenture, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley and P&G.
Individual appointments were more organized because of no wait times or long lines, Labh said. She also believes that it allowed her to connect with recruiters on a deeper level.
Keith Diego, co-founder and partner of Invisors, a tech company recruiting new employees in-person and virtually at the career fair, said there was never a question whether their company was going to attend.
“When the in-person option came out, we certainly signed up for it, but that was three months ago,” he said. “We weren’t sure what the circumstances were going to be and we knew we could cancel if things had gotten much worse.”
Invisors recruiters saw almost 80% of interested students virtually this year, and the rest were interviewed in-person at the Reitz Union, Diego said.
“We wanted to make sure that students could engage with us any way they wanted to, whether it be in-person or virtually,” he explained.