COVID-19 has a lot to answer for in Higher Education. In a matter of days and weeks, we were supporting our students’ career-related needs virtually instead of in-person. A daunting transition, but personally, one I felt comfortable enough with, having worked in colleges where I was responsible for student cohorts whose entire college experience was online. These were primarily mature students, completing a focused Masters while working full- or part-time jobs, so online classrooms and the shift to virtual career coaching suited them well. That wasn’t the case for students where I work now who preferred face-to-face learning.
Enter stage left--the Pandemic
My new college didn't offer virtual courses, so when the pandemic blindsided us in March of 2020, I had an awful lot of students who very much hadn't chosen to complete online learning. Instead, these students longed for face-to-face teaching and practical workshops; they were also used to, and more importantly, very much valued, meeting employers in person at career-focused events.
Therefore, planning an entire virtual career fair appeared to be an utterly different bag of apples. I didn't know where to begin. So, when we had to choose a platform for our now online-only career fair, it had to be the right fit. We had to engage students from Business, IT, and Psychology to Art, 3D Design, and Film, who were all 12 months into a pandemic and entirely screen-fatigued.
Career Fair Plus was our lifeboat!
I'm not sure if you experienced or remember the summer of 2020- but everyone wanted a career fair….and not just here in Ireland, but globally! So getting a demo became really difficult – and slots for fairs filled up fast. We are a relatively small college, so we couldn't pay the big bucks that some of these platforms demanded. We felt entirely on the back foot until I found Career Fair Plus.
Looking back, I feel like Career Fair Plus was a lifeboat and safe harbor in a very stormy sea. And they lived up to this analogy, again and again, in the way they worked and guided us. This type of constant attention seems to be the way they do business. In terms of support, this was the best third-party vendor experience that I have had in my 25-year professional career – and I do not say this lightly.
Live training, constant tech support, and an intuitive platform even a small school could afford
From the get-go, the platform was easy to understand. It took one training session to hammer it home. In addition to the live training, Career Fair Plus has seemingly endless resources available, from videos to articles about each part of the platform. Everything was intuitive, accessible, and easy to use. In short:
- We did not have to reinvent the wheel; we applied our branding to existing program models.
- We saved massive amounts of time using well-crafted templates to communicate with our employers and students.
- Career Fair Plus grabbed all employer information and branding from our existing college platform, again saving us and our participating employers time.
- The Career Fair Plus platform allowed both mobile and web access – hugely important for students! Many other platforms didn't share this functionality.
- The look and feel of displays were completely customizable. Employers branded their stands with company logos, website links, and short videos, which was very powerful for students researching companies before the fair or visiting a stand during the event.
- The video rooms on the platform had everything you needed in terms of individual and group meetings – locking rooms, open drop-ins, waiting rooms, etc. – again very intuitive and user-friendly.
- We had webinars throughout the day, which brought large audiences together. We also seamlessly linked our webinar platform to their system.
- The easy-to-view Analytics dashboard helped us quickly send push notifications and announcements directing student traffic to the companies with fewer appointments booked.
- The Support Team (in fact, everyone we encountered in our journey from Sales to Support) was phenomenal – not only for us, the college staff, but also for our employers, who were invited and encouraged to contact Career Fair Plus directly, and our students. Issues were resolved within minutes!
- It didn’t matter about the size of the event – the system could handle it.
- And last, but by no means least – the cost. The pricing model – where you pay by stand or number of employers was entirely doable for us.
All’s well that ends well, IF it starts with Career Fair Plus!
Our college had a hugely positive and streamlined experience with Career Fair Plus. As I read back through the above, I notice that you could be fooled into believing that I am a techie. I’m most definitely not. The pure beauty with Career Fair Plus is, you don’t have to be; they are there every step of the way!
By Dawn O’Connor, Careers Officer at IADT (Institute of Art, Design and Technology) in Ireland, who found Career Fair Plus in the midst of the pandemic and relied on the platform to host her events as they transitioned to the virtual space.
Click here to book a demo and find out how Career Fair Plus can help you with your virtual, in-person and even hybrid events too!