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May 14, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Virtual Career Fair

Prepare for Success

Virtual career fairs are unique and require a different type of prep. Give yourself time to practice and hone your skills before attending.

Virtual career fair tips

Before the Fair

  • Register in advance
    Create your profile in advance to link your resume and LinkedIn profile to your account. Save time the day of the fair and jump right in line.

  • Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
    Make sure all information is up-to-date and accurate. Schedule a career coaching appointment with a career counselor to have your materials and profile reviewed.

  • Save your resume
    Make sure to have your updated resume saved somewhere you can access it quickly. Consider having a Word document and PDF available.

  • Do a test run
    Test your internet connection and get a feel for what the event looks like, if possible.

  • Research, research, research
    This step is VITAL. Review the list of registered employers and take the time to visit their website. Note their mission, products and services, and advertised positions. Check the organization out on LinkedIn and see if they employ any Penn State graduates. Make notes of information to share with your targeted list of employers.

    • EXAMPLE:
      XYZ Organization is advertising a technical writing position that documents the stages of pharmaceutical development – share my summer job experience writing grant applications with Penn State’s Prevention Research Center.

  • Write down what you want to say
    The majority of the fair is chat-based. Type out the information you want to share with employers in another document so you can easily copy and paste. Customize the answer for that specific employer before sending it.

  • Dress for success
    Not only will you act more confidently when you dress the part but you'll be prepared if an employer asks to video chat.

  • Set a professional scene
    Make sure you have a strong internet connection, limited distractions, and a neutral background.

During the Fair

  • Take the leap and enter a booth
    There may be waiting times or a virtual queue. Be patient since this is a new experience for many and understand wait times can drastically change.

  • Keep it professional
    Avoid using text abbreviations, IRL. 

  • Share your career interests and provide examples
    Talk about how you've built knowledge or had experiences that connect with the organization.

    • EXAMPLE:
      My involvement in THON, a fundraiser benefitting children and families affected by pediatric cancer, gave me a platform to create fundraising events. With my committee, we successfully raised over $3,000. This inspired me to seek a position where I can be involved in health-related fundraising.

  • Offer to share your resume and cover letter

  • Ask questions
    Have some questions prepared before you enter the virtual booth.

    • EXAMPLE:
      What are some of your main hiring needs currently?

    • EXAMPLE:
      What are some examples of projects that your recent hires are working on?

    • EXAMPLE:
      What are some of the organization’s strengths and what are areas you are trying to improve?

  • Take notes
    Jot down notes during the conversation so you can reference them later. Make sure to write down contact information and action steps the recruiter provides, like formally applying on their organization website.

After the Fair

  • Listen to employer recommendations
    Take the time to do what the recruiter tells you to do. Apply online, send a resume, or share supplemental materials.

  • Send a thank you
    Follow-up with a recruiter and send a quick thank you message. Indicate your interest in moving forward and continuing the process.

  • Network and connect
    Connect with recruiters or professionals in an organization of interest on LinkedIn. Follow the organization on LinkedIn and be active by posting comments or questions related to your goals. Connect with Penn State alumni to ask about their career journey using LionLink.

  • Get career support for the next steps
    Attending a virtual fair is one of many steps you take to achieve your career goals. Connect with a career counselor to ask questions, talk through concerns, or create an action plan.

Practice virtual interviewing
  • How is a video interview different than a face-to-face interview?
    Face-to-face interviews allow the employer to more easily assess your non-verbal communication. This is harder to do in a virtual setting so honing your answers and following interview guidelines and even more key.

    • Dress professionally
      Treat this just like a face-to-face interview. While they may be comfortable, pajamas don't give off a professional vibe.

    • Use a neutral background
      Keep the interviewer focused on you and not what is happening behind you.

    • Have a reliable connection
      Test the connection early and think through the location you choose for the interview. Google Voice can help if your cell phone service is spotty at home.

    • Show up early
      You might not be dealing with traffic but showing up early always shows initiative. That extra time gives you a chance to work out any technical issues you may encounter.

    • Maintain eye contact
      Limiting nearby distractions, smiling, and nodding give the employer virtual non-verbal cues. Consider putting a photo to focus on above the camera.

    • Have notes prepared
      Keep a list of questions you want to ask or information you need from the interviewer. Need a pro tip? Use post-it notes around your screen to easily reference your notes without breaking eye contact or getting distracted.

  • What questions should I prepare to answer?
    Employers looking for remote interns may ask questions more focused on your remote work experience, like a school project, or how you manage your time. Provide examples of how you practice time management or have worked independently. Here are some questions you can potentially expect:

    • Tell me about a time when you moved a group project forward, at work or school, where you were in a different physical place than your other team members?

      • Chances are high that you have worked remotely on an important project. Recruiters will likely dig for details on how you enjoyed it, what challenges you faced, and how you coped.

    • Have you ever taken an online course or training session? If so, describe your process for managing your own time, respecting deadlines, requesting assistance, and solving problems.

    • Are you an active member of an online community, or do you have experience managing logistics remotely for in-person events/gatherings?

    • Have you completed freelance work for remote clients, and would you be willing to provide references upon request?

    • Have you thought about where you would work remotely if offered this internship?

      • Recruiters should not expect a precise answer to this, as even senior staff should experiment with workspaces, but it's useful to understand if you have considered this element (GitLab.com, 2020)