College’s first virtual career fair drew 64 employers, nearly 700 students

The pandemic has disrupted the economy for many with the closure of companies, layoffs and an uncertain financial outlook.

So what’s the future like for graduating college students starting to look for employment?

Nearly 700 students in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering talked with 64 employers virtually at the college’s semi-annual Career Fair October 1. For most students, this was the first time they’d ever had a virtual interview.

Katie Brown, a CSU engineering student standing by a green wall.
Katie Brown

Employers conducted 105 group interviews and more than 1,600 individual interviews with students for internships and jobs. Participating employers included the Colorado Department of Transportation, CORE Consultants, Ditesco, the Federal Highway Administration, HP Inc., Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Kimley-Horn, Kiewit, Merrick & Company, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Procter and Gamble, Progressive Insurance, Raytheon Technologies, Seagate Technology, Wild Goose Canning Technologies, and Wolf Robotics.

“The career fair was great and all of the staff I interacted with at CSU were incredibly helpful,” said Kirby Davis, Personal Systems Intern Program Manager for HP Inc. “They answered any questions that I had very quickly. All of the students we spoke with were prepared for their conversations and asked thoughtful questions about HP.”

“We are grateful to the employers, students and our partners at the CSU Career Center who helped us make this first virtual Career Fair a positive experience,” said Anthony Marchese, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. “We have been very pleased to hear that our students got a lot out of the experience and we’re hearing that many students are getting follow-up interviews, which is encouraging.  At the same time, we know students will benefit just from the interview practice.”

Here’s what a few students who attended had to say about the experience:

A picture of Cory Harland, a student wearing a tie and a white shirt
Cory Harland

Katie Brown of Elizabeth, Colorado, is a fifth-year student in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. Expected graduation date: May 2021. – – “I went to the all majors career fair the week before, and talked to a biomed company there, which was really good. I talked to Wild Goose Filling who are looking for a spring and summer electrical intern, which would be great. They currently do not have funding for a full time position for after that though, so I am a little worried about finding a job with another company.”

Cory Harland of Naperville, Illinois, is a senior majoring in Civil Engineering and looking for a job in design engineering. Expected graduation date: May 2021. – “The career fair was pretty good in that I was able to look up the people I was interviewing with on LinkedIn. I talked to four employers. I haven’t heard back from any of them – two told me to apply online. With the 10-minute block between sessions, you could prepare and didn’t feel like you were scrambling. That was really good. It was good just to see another face on the other end.”

Jared Licht, an Engineering student standing next to a green wall in the Academic Success Center.
Jared Licht

Jared Licht of Broomfield, Colorado, is a junior majoring in Civil Engineering and looking for a structural engineering internship. Expected graduation date: May 2022. – “I’m looking for an internship this summer. I checked the websites (of companies) for internships, which is how I determined which companies to meet with. I met with six different companies. One thing I liked about the virtual career fair was that I could take notes while meeting with them. I liked the low-pressure aspect. I thought overall it was a really great experience. Some of the companies gave me tips about what to add on my resume. Each company had different advice.”

Tyler Nobles of Centennial, Colorado, is a senior majoring in Computer Engineering. He talked with Seagate and other firms about a job in logic design and memory systems. Expected graduate date: May 2021. – “I went to a few different group sessions with several different companies and then had six one-on-one sessions through the day. I’m really not too worried. My major is less common and more in demand with the companies that need me.”

Tyler Nobles, an Enginering student standing in front of a green wall.
Tyler Nobles

Katy Rodriguez of Bakersfield, California, is a senior majoring in Environmental Engineering who is looking for an internship that could turn into a job. Expected graduation date: December 2021. – “I was a bit nervous about the format and how the sessions would go since this virtual career fair platform is new to all of us, but I was very satisfied with how smooth my sessions were. I think with the strict 10-minute sessions, time was utilized very well.

In the past, I have talked to employers for much longer than 10 minutes during the career fair so, again, I was nervous about this short time frame.

A picture of Katy Rodriguez standing in front of a wall.
Katy Rodriguez

However, this allowed for small talk to be mitigated, and we jumped right into important questions and details. By minute 7 of my 10 minutes with Kimley-Horn, I had been offered a longer, 30-minute interview the following day. While in-person will always be my first choice, video was great too in order to read body language and gauge interest better than you could over the phone.”