News, On Campus

Fall Career Fair Goes Online With ‘Handshake”

Students logged into Handshake, Boston College’s new career management platform, on Thursday and searched for companies they were interested in and connected with recruiters as part of the annual fall career fair, which was held virtually this year. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the employment rate and the job market, college recruiters were not discouraged, according to Associate Vice President of the Career Center Joseph DuPont. One hundred and twenty companies, a slight decrease from last year’s 152, hosted virtual sessions on the platform.

“I think a lot of companies… [are] trying to… gauge what their hiring needs will be,” DuPont said. “So, I would think that the recruiting timelines this year will be a little bit more extended than they have in past years.” 

Recruiters hosted one-on-one sessions and group sessions, with one to two representatives providing groups of around 50 students with a general overview of the company. The number of group sessions varied depending on the expected number of attendees of each company, according to DuPont.

Recruiters conducted 2,075 individual sessions and 290 group sessions in total. The recruiters were pleased by the result and turnover in general, DuPont said. 

DuPont said that preparing for the new virtual landscape of the career fair was challenging, but it ultimately provided students with opportunities that were not available in other years. 

“I think the biggest challenge for us and for employers is that move to a virtual format,” he said. “We did outreach to employers in different parts of the world that we couldn’t do before and employers get to visit different schools and they weren’t normally going to. So there are absolutely some challenges and then there are certainly good points too.” 

Because of the new online format, students were able to view the company list in advance, RSVP for a group session with recruiters, or sign up for a 10 minute one-on-one session. By Wednesday afternoon, around 1,500 students had signed up for the fair on Handshake. 

Keenan McAuliffe, MCAS ’22, attended the career fair in search of an internship in finance or education, and said the one-on-one sessions with employers were particularly helpful.

“I actually really enjoyed this year, a lot more than last year,” he said. “There wasn’t like a huge line behind me and so I think it was calmer and I didn’t feel like I was rushing at all, even though I had 10 minutes. 

The new virtual format did limit the number of employees McAuliffe was able to obtain information from, though. 

“The only problem that I have with it was I feel like I could go to so many more employers when it was in person,” he said. “The virtual group info sessions were taking up like 30 minutes of my time and sometimes I just want to grab some sort of info sheets, which I couldn’t really do.” 

Students who are not in Boston this semester, including international students currently in their home countries, were also able to attend the career fair through Handshake, according to DuPont.  

The Career Center also extended support to the class of 2020 and current students who are looking for summer internships or full-time jobs by strengthening the alumni network and building connections between alumni and current students. Through the Eagle Exchange program and the Career Center’s new program, “Bridges,” alumni can offer students the opportunity to do project-based work.

Featured Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor

September 20, 2020