Careers fairs go digital

3 November 2020

The pandemic has seen many major events that might have been expected to attract many participants either rescheduled or held as digital meetings, at both short and occasionally a little longer notice. Arrangers in general have been required to work hard to adapt information so that it can reach people in new ways and this autumn’s careers fairs in November are no exception.

 

“We will all remember 2020 as a digital year,” says Madelene Rönnberg, study and careers counsellor at the Student Affairs and Academic Registry Division, who among other things works on Uppsala University’s UU Careers function and is one of the voices of the Study and Careers podcast.

UU Career has rearranged all Careers Tuesdays and workshops as webinars, meaning that more people can take part.

“Rather than presenting an obstacle, digital technology now offers an opportunity to solve challenges, including how to provide career support at Uppsala University. I believe that we will retain many of our new technological solutions as a complement to physical meeting places, even once the pandemic is over.”

Many of Uppsala University’s student associations and student unions are also making the transition to digital solutions for regular careers fairs, something that has demanded considerable commitment and focus from all involved.

The virtual fair

Felix Kåhrström is project manager for UTNARM, the Uppsala Union for Engineering and Science Students’ careers fair, which this autumn will take place virtually on 5 November on Uppsala University’s careers platform, CareerGate, with two weeks of events (weeks 44 and 45) leading up to the fair.

“Naturally, the fair will be very different this year, but students will have the opportunity to conduct better research beforehand and the companies will be creating virtual booths with information about the business and situations vacant, all of which will be available long before the fair opens.”

During the fair itself students will be able to communicate with companies by text, voice and video chats, as well as attending webinars. They can even prebook personal meetings with some of the companies.

“It will be very exciting to see how companies and students experience the event and whether digital solutions might be relevant in future.”

The hybrid: with the meeting in focus

Louise Pettersson, project manager for Kontaktdagarna 2020, the career fair for business, economics, information systems and media students taking place from 23 to 27 November, explains that they will be providing alternative arrangements, with parts of the fair held physically in the Uppsala Business and Economics Student Association’s building, Borgen, and the remainder online.

“We will be focusing on the meeting between companies and students in the form of various corporate events, contact talks, case solutions and lectures. We are very proud to be able to present this hybrid solution.”

There are two major changes from previous years: firstly, more and smaller meetings will be arranged between students and companies; and secondly, Kontaktdagarna 2020 will extend across an entire week rather than the two days of previous years.

“By moving certain elements online, we also see great opportunities for including international companies. It is both highly enjoyable and developmental to take something that has been done in the same way for many years and do it differently.”

Digital fair: expensive but broader

Louis-Alassane Cassaignard-Viaud is project manager for the event CareerDay held by Pax et Bellum and Uppsala Association of International Affairs. They will be holding this autumn’s fair online on 9 November for students looking for jobs in politics, international relations, economics and other areas of the field of social sciences.

“We will have around 50 exhibitors and several presenters from various backgrounds. We are collaborating with career support at Uppsala University to arrange workshops and realise the entire project.”

This event will be very different to previous years in as much as it will be held entirely online – something that has both pros and cons. The digital format provides opportunities to reach a wider spectrum of companies and organisations, with no necessity to limit the catchment area to Uppsala and Stockholm.

“Meeting online will enable students, companies and organisations to more efficiently exchange CVs and contact details. Companies can also, for example, directly advertise job opportunities so that students can apply more quickly. We are extremely curious about how this new concept will work in action and what development opportunities it may offer us for future events.”

Hybrid events offer greater access

The autumn will also see the annual Kontaktdagen careers event for law students taking place in modified form, both at UKK on 10 November and with various elements that students can follow digitally throughout week 46. Kontaktdagen’s CEO, Jacob Lannsjö, describes the autumn’s adapted event: Kontaktveckan.

“The week will begin with the broadcast of our premiere, a studio-based programme of about one hour produced in collaboration with our main sponsors. We will also be arranging panel discussions between various employers, with each panel having a main theme: social, organisational or environmental sustainability. These will be so-called hybrid events, meaning that a limited number of students will be invited to attend in person while the event will be broadcast live digitally.”

Contact talks will be arranged between students and employers throughout the week, something that normally takes place in specially booked conference rooms at UKK but that this year will be conducted digitally using Zoom or Teams.

“It will also be great fun to record the premiere and arrange contact talks digitally. We feel that this may well be the future, as it provides many more students with an opportunity to meet potential employers.”

Johan Ahlenius