Students gathered virtually to make valuable connections and explore job and experiential learning opportunities with employers from near and far.
COVID-19 has made an already competitive job market even more challenging. With nearly every workplace transformed because of the pandemic, recruiting and hiring have been turned upside down too. So how do college students stand out and succeed in their job searches when they can’t reach across a table and shake a recruiter’s hand? This year, Champlain College’s Career Collaborative brought everyone together virtually.
Pivoting to a Virtual Format
Moving the Career Fair to a virtual platform was made possible through a new service offered by Handshake—the No. 1 site for students to get hired—and Champlain’s Career Collaborative team. The Collaborative’s dedicated Career Coaches brought 75 recruiters to campus remotely and prepared students to put their best foot forward virtually. More than 600 students from all class years and divisions networked with companies from around the country during the fair.
The talent on offer at this year’s Virtual Career Fair was first-rate as usual. “The students who came to our one-on-one sessions had done their research, and this allowed us to have some really productive conversations,” says Graham Schwab, a Talent Strategist with New Breed Marketing.
“I was impressed with the number of students interested in the Howard Center,” says Aimee Upchurch, a recruiter from the Vermont-based nonprofit. “I was happy to see a mix of majors represented. Students from Psychology, Social Work, and Education majors are expected. So it was great to see students from Communication and Business Administration as well.” Champlain students are known for combining their major with minors and specializations that help them hone in on a particular passion and make the world a better place through their work.
Students could choose from among 84 group sessions with employers, or set up a private one-on-one session with an individual recruiter. During previous career fairs, students had to wind their way around tables in the gymnasium and wait in long lines to speak to recruiters, but this year they simply logged on to their chosen sessions.
There was no waiting in line, the students were all on an equal playing field, and they were guaranteed an opportunity to engage with employers.Pat Boera, Stiller School of Business Career Coach
Prior to the event, Stiller School of Business Career Coach Pat Boera hosted 19 workshops to prepare students for the Career Fair. She worked with individuals from all majors to help them hone their resumes, compose their questions, organize their time, strategize their approach, and soothe their nerves.
Members of the Career Collaborative and Peer Coaches (students who work for the Collaborative) hosted all of the virtual group sessions during the Career Fair and ensured the event ran smoothly. “The virtual format gave students an opportunity to spend time in a virtual professional setting, which is something that has become common recently,” says Lisa Lord, ’20 // Communication, a Peer Coach. “Having some practice with it is beneficial.”
After the fair, employers were invited to attend a virtual feedback session with the Collaborative, which gathered some wonderful praise for the entire event: “I don’t think it could have gone any better,” says Sarah Turcotte, Recruitment & Inclusion Coordinator at the Vermont Department of Corrections. “I was extremely impressed by the level of attendance and participation in our Q&A group session — we had 40+ students on the Zoom!,” says New Breed’s Graham Schwab.
The Handshake platform allows employers and students to remain connected after the Career Fair. It even makes it easy for recruiters to browse through the resumes and portfolios of students who attended their sessions.
The Virtual Career Fair turned out to be a terrific event. Even though it was remote, it was really well put together and easy to do from start to finish.Charlie Floquet, ’21 // Computer Networking & Cybersecurity
Helping Students Successfully Launch Into Their Chosen Fields
Champlain’s career services department is called the “Career Collaborative” in a very deliberate way. “It’s collaborative by design,” says Angela Hyldburg, Operations and Data Manager. It nurtures a powerful ecosystem of connections and partnerships that serve our students during their time at Champlain and throughout their lives.
Extending far beyond the College itself, Career Collaborative is the Champlain organization that capitalizes on all of our career-focused academic programs by connecting students with relevant experiential learning opportunities. It is the ultimate career and employer resource, and one of the main factors that contribute to our successful career outcomes for graduates year after year.
“Career positioning and preparation are fundamental to our mission and woven into our curriculum,” says Dr. Benjamin Akande, President of Champlain College. “At Champlain, we integrate rigorous academics with real-world experience in powerful ways that allow our students to enter the workforce with years of professional experience under their belts.”
“Over the course of four years, we work with students, intensively, to prepare for interviews, hone their portfolios, develop their social media presence, network, secure internships and mentoring opportunities, and present themselves in the best light,” says Dr. Tanja Hinterstoisser, Director of Champlain’s Career Education & Employer Relations. “We teach them how to show and tell exactly what they have to offer.”
While many institutions have an office for this type of career instruction, no other college provides it to all students in such a comprehensive manner. The success of this year’s Virtual Career Fair is a testament to the important work of this team.