Career Fair Goes Virtual for Spring Semester

Julia Butch, Staff Writer

The University hosts a robust Career Fair each semester, offering undergraduates the opportunity to network with professionals. Like many other events this year, the fair is being held online. Kate Szumanski, Director of Professional Development in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says that the virtual career fair environment brings its own set of challenges. However, she is confident that students can succeed if they prepare properly.

“Communicating through a screen as opposed to in-person can be a barrier to connecting in meaningful ways, but it doesn’t have to be if students prepare well prior to the fairs,” Szumanski said.

The director shares that her colleagues in the University Career Center “work tirelessly to secure employers from a range of different industries” to participate in the career fairs, including consulting, communications, science and technology. These collective efforts attract a diverse group of employers who seek to meet students interested in their respective fields. The fair provides opportunities for all academic majors and career interests.

“Students seeking internships, entry-level jobs, connections, or simply more information about companies, organizations, and their lines of business will find those and more at the career fairs,” Szumanski said

The Career Center experienced an uptick in the number of students seeking Student Support Hours to help prepare for the fair.

“My two snow days were filled with many delightful (virtual) student meetings,” the Director said. “Villanova students seek to discover meaningful, fulfilling work. They are intentional in their process of discovery and exploration. By preparing for the career fairs, students build their confidence and comfort level with the fair environment.” 

Szumanski hopes that more students of all academic years, particularly more Liberal Arts and Sciences students, participate in the career fairs both in the fall and spring. 

“The opportunity to connect with employers, learn about the professions and ask meaningful questions during the career fairs is incredibly valuable,” Szumanksi said. “First-year students, sophomores, juniors and seniors should engage fully every time there’s an opportunity.” 

Szumanski believes that the fair is valuable to students, even if they do not land an internship or job. Rather, she emphasized the importance of the skills that students develop and strengthen as a result of attendance and participation. There is a trend of students gaining confidence and ease. Hopefully, these skills translate into the next employer meeting or opportunity.

During the extended winter break, Szumanski conducted a three-week Winter Break Emerging Professionals Program for Liberal Arts and Sciences students, which attracted dozens of students seeking to learn more about career pathways, industries and how to apply for a variety of roles. Students had the opportunity to write resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. They also had the chance to build their Handshake and Nova Network profiles. These tools can be among the essential elements needed to pursue a variety of roles. 

“Preparation is key,” Szumanski said.

With the help of Szumanski and others at the Career Center, students were well equipped to make the most of this online fair.