In 2020, virtual life became the norm and that made previously in-person activities like networking that much harder. But at Maryland Smith, the Office of Career Services (OCS) is showing why that doesn’t have to be the case.
The OCS team has taken its many in-person activities and transformed them for a virtual world, making sure the important connections between students and employers could still take place. And it’s working, the team says.
In September, the Office of Career Services at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business held a week-long virtual Employer ShowCASE, inviting all graduate students to network with employees and Maryland Smith alumni from prominent consulting firms.
Over the course of the week, over 80 students from Smith's graduate-level programs met in small groups with employees from Accenture, Deloitte and others, and completed small case studies.
“Our series of employer showcases is just one example of how we’re always trying to be innovative and being more deliberate about making connections between our students and employers in terms of career opportunities,” says Dori Jamison, director of MBA career coaching at Maryland Smith.
Throughout the semester, OCS has helped graduate and undergraduate students connect with employers through career development workshops with the office’s career coaching team on topics such as perfecting a resume, interviewing online and personal branding.
The office also adapted its career fair to a virtual format this semester, with almost 100 employers participating.
“Employers were most impressed with how our students showed up and how they conveyed their professionalism,” says Ashlee Chicoine, director of undergraduate programming in OCS. “Nearly 40 percent of students who completed the post-fair survey also reported receiving interviews and job offers from their interactions with employers within three weeks of the event.”
In place of the Employer of the Day recruiting events previously held in Van Munching Hall, OCS hosted virtual Power Hour events, in which students could drop into meeting rooms to chat with featured employers.
For students like Jordan Heitzner, having these opportunities to network with employers online is critical for finding success in a virtual environment.
“With networking online, you definitely have to push yourself a little bit more. You’re not walking through the hallway and stopping someone for a brief conversation,” says Heitzner, a first-year MBA student at Maryland Smith. “It’s all about being proactive and reaching out to employers to stay in touch. It’s also about being confident and knowing that people understand these are difficult times.”
Meeting the demands of a virtual environment while maintaining the goal of helping students acquire jobs has been a challenging, but rewarding experience, Chicoine says. With the headway that OCS has made in creating experiences for both students and employers online, there is plenty to look forward to in the upcoming spring semester, she says. She encourages every student to take advantage of these opportunities.
“We know every students’ career journey is different and navigating through these times can definitely be a challenge. If they don’t know where to start, we really encourage them to reach out to us and allow us to walk alongside them on this journey,” says Chicoine.
“We’re happy to figure this out with them and be a partner in this process.”
To access the HireSmith Career portal withJob postings, salary data, and career search guidance go to: HireSmith. And be sure to check out the “Resource Library” in the left-hand navigation.