While people may be staying home due to the coronavirus, Alfred State College (ASC) was still able to connect its students with employers recently by holding virtual career fairs.
Held on separate days, the career fairs took place on March 25 and 26 for the Alfred campus and March 31 for the Northland campus in Buffalo, respectively. The college had previously held an in-person career fair for its Wellsville campus on March 4.
Elaine Morsman, director of Alfred State’s Career Development Center, said the college is fortunate to have excellent technology in place that allowed for the virtual interaction between students and employers.
“Because we use JobLink – a Symplicity platform – we were able to convert our in-person career fairs to virtual through a series of in-system settings,” Morsman said.
For a virtual fair, Morsman said, employers were able to customize canned messages and hyperlinks prior to going live. On the day of the event, employers would log into JobLink and initiate the ability to live chat. Students would then log in and view the employers that are available by identifying those with the Live Chat icon.
“The student initiates the chat with the employer,” Morsman explained. “Once the chat begins, the employer and student continue their conversations for as long as they would like to.”
While issues related to COVID-19 prevented some companies from attending, the virtual career fairs still drew 32 employers, and more than 100 chats took place. Morsman said she was very pleased with the result.
“The events went off without a hitch despite the fact that we had to convert them in a very short timeframe and students had just started taking classes 100 percent online,” she said. “Maureen Sibble, our senior career planning and development associate, and I were especially proud of the conversations that were taking place during the live chats. Our students were very professional in their introductions and conversations. Additionally, we heard back from two students that landed phone interviews from the events!”
Morsman noted that a recruiter from one employer, Tesla, was unable to attend the Northland virtual career fair due to a last-minute meeting, but that he did supply information for students to connect with him. The Buffalo Tesla location, Morsman said, plans to begin production of ventilators to supply hospitals in need.
“We hope to learn more about the opportunities with Tesla and connect our students with them,” she said.
Morsman said she is very grateful that the Career Development Center had well-established online platforms in place to assist students prior to COVID-19.
“This allowed us to switch seamlessly to working from home and still being able to provide all our customers with the resources they need,” she said.