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Virtual Spring Careers Fair supports record numbers of students and employers

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The challenge of moving the University’s annual Spring Careers Fair, from a physical event on campus to a virtual online offer, proved more than worthwhile after record numbers of students and employers participated last month.

The Careers & Employability Centre successfully negotiated with employers and undertook a comprehensive marketing campaign to engage students and encourage them to download the Careers Fair Plus app.

1,300 students took part in the fair on 29 April, more than treble the number that attended the physical event in 2019. Whilst many browsed the employer profiles, over 200 individual telephone appointments took place, as employers spoke with Sussex students based in the UK and overseas. On the days leading up to and following the fair, employer profiles received 15,000 views.

Andrea Wall, the University’s Employer Engagement Manager, said: “Making the move from the physical to virtual in such a short space of time was challenging, but the team worked so hard to make it a success. There were some steep learning curves, particularly supporting overseas-based students to engage in appointments on the day, but overall it was very positive and we have learnt a lot for future activities.”

A range of organisations took part including the Civil Service Fast Stream, FDM Group, Concordia, KPMG and St Johns School & College. Employer feedback was highly positive, with Tom Owen from Fishawack Health commenting afterwards, “Thank you for organising such a smooth event in the absence of a physical meeting”.

Flora Scorer from the Civil Service Fast Track Scheme added: “We all found the fair to be a very valuable experience, with the opportunity to talk one-to-one with students meaning we could answer their questions thoroughly and share our insight and experiences.”

Student feedback is still coming in but so far is also very positive. Students valued the opportunity to continue to have one-to-one conversations with recruiters. One student highlighted the appointment booking system as helping them “to prepare and pre-select the organisations [they] wanted to have a chat with - it gave the entire experience structure”.

The Careers & Employability Team has since been invited by Universities UK to talk at their upcoming webinar focused on delivering virtual careers services and online support during Covid-19. They will present a case study on Sussex and how we are operating online during the current crisis, with a particular focus on the virtual fair.

The team will take forward the learning into their planning for autumn recruitment events, including the University flagship fair, delivered in partnership with the University of Brighton. Working closely with employers to understand and respond to their evolving recruitment needs, the team anticipates that virtual fairs will play an important role in helping students acquire opportunities and labour market intelligence in 2020/21.

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 21 May 2020

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