Kettering University Co-op managers are gearing up for the biggest virtual employment fair of the year with more than 40 companies and organizations lined up to meet with students.

The March 15 event, which is only for Kettering students and graduates, will be the University’s third virtual employment fair since the COVID-19 pandemic started a year ago. Last year’s Spring Employment Fair was one of the last major, in-person events on campus, but virtual participation has been growing with each fair since then.

In another encouraging sign, there are more than 70 job postings listed on Kettering Connect.

“Our available posted roles are the highest they have been in many years,” said Tracie Jones, Director of Enrollment and Cooperative Education. “New opportunities are added daily.”

The virtual fairs do have their benefits, too, such as eliminating travel time for both employers and students and allowing companies and incoming students to participate from a greater distance. Students also learn valuable real-world skills of navigating virtual employment engagements.

Virtual fairs are similar to in-person events in that job seekers wait in a queue to meet employers with their resumes and elevator pitches ready. In a virtual event, contact between students and employers begins with a text chat that can lead to an invitation for a one-on-one short meeting, which could become an actual interview and a possible Co-op job offer.

Like an in-person event, students should dress professionally. Preparation also is important, which is where Co-op managers come in.

Co-op managers are on hand to help students navigate the process. The Co-op manager’s role is to assist and coach students through the entire employment process and serve as a University liaison with potential hiring organizations. Even after employment is secured, Co-op managers continue to provide guidance to students to ensure their success.

The Co-op team is hosting a “How to Successfully Navigate a Virtual Employment Fair,” which will be from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., March 9 for current students and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., March 11 for incoming students. This is a great opportunity to learn some insider tips to be successful at the employment fair.

Here are some other tips to help students prepare:

  • Make sure the space is select is quiet and makes you feel confident
  • Conduct a camera and mic check prior to logging into the event
  • Create a game plan for which companies you want to speak with
  • Write out your “elevator pitch” or brief summary of your skills, background and why you would be a good fit for the job
  • Check the grammar and spelling in your pitch and have it ready so that you can copy and paste it into the chats

As many have learned during this time of remote working and learning, complications and glitches can occur, but it’s important to be considerate, adapt and adjust, Jones said.

“Show grace. We’ve all had those moments where the mic doesn’t work or the WIFI cuts out; be flexible,” Jones said. “Of course meeting virtually is different than in-person, but in today’s environment, it’s just as important to acquire and master interaction and engagement skills in a virtual setting.”

Jones said the University’s Co-op team has used feedback from employers and students of previous virtual fairs to improve each time. Students can upload their resumes and have early access to the fair to conduct research on participating companies and see open positions.  Students can apply to the open jobs ahead of the fair March 13 and 14 if they log into the booths and employers have provided links.

“The best advice I can give every student is to be patient and stay connected. Your involvement in your Co-op experience definitely impacts your success,” Jones said. “It is truly your job to take an active and responsible role for your future. The Virtual Employment Fair is just one step of many you can use. Stay involved, take the lead and take control of your experience. It is your journey to enjoy.”

To register for the Spring Employment Fair, visit connect.kettering.edu/student.