The Florida A&M University Fall 2021 Career and Internship Expo made its in-person return on Thursday, Sept. 30. Due to COVID-19, the expo was held virtually in 2020.
Demiah Hawkins, a talent acquisition analyst at Slalom Consulting, said the virtual career fair forced her company to adjust.
“With everything being virtual last year we definitely had to change up our interview process a little bit differently,” Hawkins said. “Typically we would have this in-person, but we had to move everything online as well. I would say it kind of has changed a little bit because we actually are able to maneuver a lot better now in a remote setting.”
With the pandemic continuing into 2021, it has affected potential opportunities for students. Most of the searches have been conducted online so students are limited to having only virtual interactions with companies.
“I would say the biggest thing for me last year was that there was no in-person, there was only virtual,” said Maurice Pickett II, a business administrator senior at FAMU. “So this made it harder for me because I knew I had at least three or four registrations with companies and only one showed up in total. Even then, I didn’t even get any opportunities with that job. These were some of my first feelings of failure, but I was able to stay in contact with them through programs. I found out that Spathe Systems was having a program with FAMU, so I was able to be the pilot student for that.”
The expo was created to present students the opportunity to explore potential careers, network with prospective employers and develop professional mannerisms. As the employment rate is on a steady decline, employers are struggling to recruit potential employees. This means that companies have to create the best appeal to gain the interest of students.
Chris Sanford, a junior at FAMU, said that he wished there were more opportunities that appealed to him.
“Basically what I was looking for was bigger marketing firms that are consumer based and roles that are in finance/sales,” he said. “I’m looking at most of the bigger companies that are here like Oracle, Estée Lauder and Amazon. For me, what would keep me at a company is not only the salary or the benefits that come with working in the corporate setting, it’s actually the culture and the environment there. If I’m having fun and I’m doing work that I think is going to be conclusive to the company as a whole, then I will be willing to come back.”
According to Forbes, the culture of a company is a determining factor in the level of talent that will be attracted. If employees have a sense of belonging, they are more likely to stay long term. This translates to less turnover, fewer new hires and better team chemistry.
Patrick Joseph is an academic coach in the Undergraduate Success Center. He says that the career expo is a tool to show students what jobs are available in the real world.
“The career fair is a great opportunity that pretty much exposes students to the opportunities that are out there,” Joseph said. “Hopefully, there you can make a connection to have a full career. And it’s really about building that network, so that students have access to other opportunities that are out there. I would say in order to build a network, the student should first research the company. This way the connection can be enhanced when communicating with potential companies.”
With COVID still being a prevalent issue, the second day of the career fair was hosted virtually.