As colleges around the country have shifted to online classes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on campus, an unfortunate consequence has been that many students, especially seniors, have missed out on opportunities to network and secure internships and jobs in the final months of the academic year.
Megan Blackwell serves as director of housing for the California Theta alumni and volunteer corporation (AVC) at Sacramento State. She decided the disruption of their on-campus routine shouldn’t interfere with chapter brothers’ ability to connect with SigEp alumni for internships, job opportunities and mentoring. With that in mind, Blackwell organized California Theta’s first virtual career fair.
She reached out to several chapter alumni with experience in the undergrads’ preferred industries to participate. AVC President Zane Hatfield, Sacramento State ’14, assisted by contacting other alumni throughout the state. And Jim Amen, ’96, district governor for District 25, reached out to fellow DGs in a variety of industries.
In all, nine alumni participated in the event, connecting with chapter members through a Zoom meeting. For nearly two hours, the alumni discussed their professional backgrounds, offered career advice and answered questions from the undergraduate brothers.
While face-to-face career fairs have many benefits, there are some distinct advantages to an online event like this one. For one, Blackwell noted, holding it online enabled alumni who didn’t live in the immediate area to participate. “The reach we were able to provide for chapter members while getting a variety of California Theta alumni involved was amazing,” she stated.
Brothers say they appreciated this unique opportunity to network while social distancing. “It definitely helped provide perspective about the kind of career path I want to take and how SigEp can be part of that journey,” observed Danny Thirakul, ’22. He’d like to see the event expand to include multiple industry-specific sessions with alumni and open it up to brothers in other chapters.
Deniro Gomez ’23, gave the virtual format high marks, noting that it provided brothers an opportunity to interact with several alumni at once. “The event helped me gain a couple of mentors in the fields that I am pursuing,” he added.
Blackwell offers the following advice to chapters that would like to host their own virtual career fair:
- Don’t forget to include younger alumni. “We had young and seasoned professionals, and I think it was beneficial for the undergrads to see young success as well.”
- Use your board members for outreach. They probably know successful alumni outside of your current volunteer pipeline.
- Involve chapter alumni who no longer live in the area. “I recommend getting a full list of chapter alumni and starting your outreach there. You might engage some alumni in a new way.”
Hosting a virtual career fair is an opportunity to add value to the SigEp experience in this time of social distancing. It will help undergrads hone their job-hunting skills while enabling alumni to help the newest generation of SigEp professionals launch their careers.