The Coronavirus has made many aspects of life more difficult; our colleges and clubs have closed and moved online, sports, concerts and many other things we do for fun have been cancelled and we even have to queue to do our weekly shop at Lidl, as though its Space Mountain at Disneyland or something…Welcome to the new normal, it’s going to be like this for a while.

Every cloud does indeed have its silver lining, though. I, for one, am glad that it’s now illegal for people to sit too close to me in cafes, on the bus or in the library and having mostly online lectures gives me flexibility with taking on work hours or going to the gym that I just didn’t have before. Just like a lot of your lectures, the annual round of UCC Career Services Employability Events have also been moved online. Virtual career events can reach more people than ever before: people with disabilities, those looking after children or even those with simply very busy schedules now have the chance to attend a career event where they may not have before. Moving online also eliminates any geographical boundaries or possible expenses associated with attending a career fair. Most crucially, moving online keeps us all safe.

Here’s how it all works:

What is a Virtual Career Fair?

Virtual Career Fairs are where students and graduates meet with employers to discuss employment opportunities. Career Services will be holding the inaugural UCC Virtual Recruitment Fair on the 12th of October on the Graduateland platform and registration is now open for students to begin building their profiles on the platform. The main form of communication on Graduateland is 1-to-1 messaging. Employers can also launch a video call with you through the chat function and if a company posts interview slots, you can book in and join a video call. Each company will have their own FAQ section to help you focus your questions better before you enter a chat with an employer. These chats are a super opportunity to learn more about the company, and what they’re looking for in terms of new recruits (and an equally super opportunity to prove that you have exactly what it is they’re looking for!).

Advantages of Virtual Career Fairs

  1. Well prepped – Unlike your average career fairs, at a virtual fair you can have cheat notes and prep material out in front of you. This way, you can stay focused and make sure that you remember to say and ask everything you want.

2. Convenient – Generally, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to boost your career prospects by sitting on your couch at home. Virtual career fairs enable you to do just that and once it’s over you can go back to scrolling through Insta just like it never happened…The future is now!

3. Efficient & Targeted – With a virtual fair you can seek out and engage with only the companies you want to talk to: no more being ambushed by a PR person for a company you’re not interested in with a goodie bag of plastic gadgets that you don’t actually need minutes after arriving or finally reaching the stall of a company you actually do want to know more about only to find them packing up to leave early.

4. Less Stress (More Success) – Connecting with people online removes a lot of stress. You no longer have to worry about whether your handshake was too loose, too tight or too sweaty or if you’re standing up straight enough. Attending from the comfort of your home means avoiding those overwhelming crowds that make hearing the person you’re speaking to very difficult. Large crowds can also be really distracting or off-putting for those with sensory difficulties. This is another example of how moving the career fairs online allows more people to attend.

Before the Fair

Register ahead of time, upload your CV to the platform as well as a bio and a headshot!

  1. Research the Participating Organisations – Go one step further than simply googling the company! Use LinkedIn to network and talk to graduates working in the companies you’re interested in for some deeper research. Doing this shows great initiative and can also form a talking point when engaging with employers. Take a look at the Career Services website to find a full list of attending companies!

2. Prepare Your Questions – Asking the right questions will help you decide whether the company is a good fit for you. Career fairs are all about gathering information so do yourself justice and spend time preparing questions so that you get the answers you need.

3. Practice Your Pitch – Graduateland will prompt you to introduce yourself in the chat function. Make yourself stand out with a short but focused introduction that outlines your main selling points. Maybe you have work experience in a similar company, top-of-the-class grades or you’re really involved in lots of extra-curriculars. The Careers team will host a webinar on the 6th October to help you prepare your pitch and get the most out of the experience

During the Fair

  1. Use Professional Language – Communication during the fair will be done primarily through the chat function of the platform. It’s important to demonstrate strong written communication skills because these will be important for any job you might end up in! Double check your spelling and grammar and make sure not to use emojis. This is not the time to break out the winky and smiley face emojis! Dress professionally in case you are invited to have a video call.

2. Take Notes – In order to remember everything you’ve learned, keep track of it in a notebook. If you’ve made the most out of your virtual career fair experience, you’ll have more information than you’ll know what to do with. Take a particular note of names so that you can connect with employers or grad recruiters on LinkedIn after the fair or name drop them in future interviews…

After the Fair

  1. Follow Up – It’s good practice to reach out the next day with a thank you if you particularly enjoyed speaking with someone or if you found them really helpful. Both students and employers will have access to the Graduateland platform for a month after the fair. This is the perfect opportunity for further network building and who knows where it’ll lead…

You can find more information about the Virtual Recruitment Fair and the Prepare for the Fair Event on the UCC Career Services’ website: www.ucc.ie/en/careers/