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Virtual career fair benefits Big Ten students

April 7, 2011

As technology increases with each generation, employers are looking for new ways to reach students.

From Tuesday through Thursday, MSU participated in the Hire Big 10 Plus Virtual Career Fair.
“It’s a virtual fair only open to students in the Big Ten consortium,” said Theda Rudd, MSU career services assistant director.

This is the first year MSU has participated in the program, and career services officials said they hope the program will match students with potential employers.

“We want to make sure students have opportunities up until the last minute,” Rudd said.
Gayle Oliver-Plath, founder and CEO of CareerEco virtual career fairs based in Atlanta, said the process was simple.

Students accessed the website, logged in with their names, uploaded a résumé onto the system and clicked to join a chat with potential employers, she said. Links located in the chat showed viewers who were in the chat room and students could jump from room to room to see what was said in each room, Oliver-Plath said.

Employers could choose to chat with all students in the chat room or ask for private chats with potential employees.

Amber Sowerbrower, an interdisciplinary studies in social science and human resources and society senior, received an email Tuesday and decided to check out the program, she said.
“I had never heard of a virtual career fair before,” she said.

After making a user name and uploading her résumé, Sowerbrower searched for companies involved in the program, such as Chrysler and Staples, she said.

“There’s a lot of big-name companies that showed up,” Sowerbrower said. “They were serious about looking for students to hire.”

Oliver-Plath originally started CareerEco as a green-career program, she said. After talking with the student population at nearby Georgia Institute of Technology, she learned many students felt it was frustrating to dress up and attend a career fair, later to be sent home to apply online.

Oliver-Plath realized career fairs were inconvenient not only for students, but for employers as well, she said.

“Employers have to pick which school to go — they can’t go to all of them,” Oliver-Plath said.
After finding a way to reduce traveling and preserve resources, CareerEco virtual career fairs launched in November 2009.

“It’s good for the environment,” she said. “It’s also good for people strapped for time.”

Sowerbrower said in-person career fairs can be intimidating, but Hire Big 10 Virtual Career Fairs take off some of the pressure.

“It still has the serious business feel but still lets you be comfortable,” she said.

Several other students are enjoying the comfortable setting as well. Oliver-Plath recalled a student claiming she searched for a career while sitting on her deck, bathing in the sunshine.

“Students love it,” she said. “You find things you won’t typically get out of a career fair.”

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