Featured Image: Laila Jones|Marlin Chronicle
Students speaking with employers at Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation booth at the career fair.
The Career, Volunteer and Internship Fair occurred in the hallway of the Jane P. Batten Student Center on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 19. The fair was a time for students to learn about and take advantage of various opportunities. Employers from a variety of Hampton Roads businesses were present to communicate and engage with.
From the Chesapeake Bay Police Department and Norfolk Public Library to Dollar Tree and Sinclair Communications, an assortment of full-time and part-time jobs, volunteer opportunities and experiential learning programs were offered to the student body.
With employers at their respective tables from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on both days, students could come prepared and dress to impress for specific companies, or they could simply have a conversation while walking through the hallway on the way to class.
Occurring once per semester, the Career, Volunteer and Internship Fair is an important part of each school year.
Having the Career Fair on two different days allows for more student involvement and relevant interactions between employers and potential employees, even if there is not an even amount of student traffic.
“[Employers] said they were able to have meaningful conversations, so it was quality over quantity,” Director of Career Development Alice Jones said in reference to past fairs. The amount of students reached is important, but even more important is the value of connections able to be made.
After deciding upon the dates to have the fair, Jones explained how she uses the job platform Handshake to notify companies about the fair. Through this online program, the businesses are able to sign up for a spot at the fair as well as find out any future career events they can get involved with at Virginia Wesleyan.
Something different about this semester’s fair was that volunteer opportunities were more widely advertised when marketing the event, and they were showcased more by employers.
“It [the previous fair] was just a career fair beforehand. We added ‘volunteer’ so that there would be more interest,” Jones said.
Another recent difference about the fair is its location: it is now held in the hallway of Batten instead of in the CMAC. This has had the dual effect of making the event more casual in addition to bringing in more foot traffic.
Jones expressed the nervousness she had about people arriving to the fair dressed in sweatpants, shorts, flip-flops and sports practice uniforms instead of the expected professional attire.
“I mentioned it [to employers], and basically what people said was they thought that their conversations they had with people were more important,” Jones said. “They weren’t really focused right now on how people were dressed.”
Overall, being able to talk with and engage more students was more important to the employers than the formality of the event. Although business dress is always appreciated, the site of the event consequently does not require it.
The value of offering career, volunteer and internship opportunities through events like this is rooted in the push for work-based learning. Jones emphasized that ensuring students are given the information and time to talk with employers who can provide that kind of learning is important.
“There’s a real push in the state to have students be able to have those [work-based learning] opportunities,” Jones said. “So I think us making time here at Virginia Wesleyan gives students an opportunity to connect with employers that they might otherwise not ever consider and opportunities that they might not even see.”
In conclusion, Jones said, “I think that the ultimate goal is for people to have a good education but also to be able to translate that into meaningful work or some kind of meaningful career, whether that’s graduate school or a job right after graduation.” Taking advantage of opportunities found at events like this is one step in achieving that ultimate goal.
By Phoebe Cox