Despite social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland Smith undergraduates can still attend a career fair, visit top companies, connect with recruiters, meet with advisors and administrators, and celebrate together this spring – all virtually.
Smith’s offices of Undergraduate Programs and Career Services are innovating and adapting to bring events and activities online to serve students and keep the community strong.
“We’re doing everything we can to offer support to undergraduates right now,” says Victor Mullins, associate dean of undergraduate programs at Maryland Smith. “We’re in this together.”
One big area of focus for Maryland Smith: helping students find jobs or internships. That’s why Smith is adding a virtual career fair for all students and alumni, to be held online on April 24.
“We are figuring out ways to expand offerings because they aren’t going to get the in-person connectivity,” says Ashlee Chicoine, director of undergraduate career programming at Smith. “Our students are really resilient, and I think they’re adaptable and they are figuring things out. They are generally comfortable with technology. It’s just managing a new normal and what that looks like.”
Smith has hosted virtual career fairs in the past, but this is the first career fair open to all Smith undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni. “The virtual format makes it work for all students together,” says Chicoine. “It allows us to expand it even further – it’s almost limitless.”
Chicoine’s team will offer online prep sessions for students before the career fair, and they have several other events planned in the coming weeks, including opportunities to log in remotely to interact with companies. On March 31, undergraduates participated in an online workshop hosted by Bloomberg’s Global Data team to learn how to navigate technical interviews and stand out in the job search. And on April 17, a group of undergraduates will attend a virtual visit to Salesforce’s New York office. Students will be hosted online by Salesforce’s Larry Kamguia, senior program manager, and members of the FutureForce Team. They’ll get a company overview, participate in an interactive session about “owning your career,” and learn about internship and full-time job opportunities with the company.
Beyond the job search, Mullins’ team is now offering virtual advising to students via video conferencing, phone, text and email. And for general support and a chance to ask questions and reconnect, Mullins is hosting a series of hourlong community Zoom video conferences for each class of undergraduates that he has dubbed the “Quaran-Dean Community Hour.”
The undergraduate team is connecting online with newly admitted students, too. Mullins’ team will host the first virtual “Discover Smith” event for newly admitted Black and Latinx students to engage with current students and advisors and ask questions through Zoom.
Mullins and Chicoine are also finding ways to bring undergraduates together to celebrate.
“Our toughest part is for our seniors who aren’t having the last semester that they expected,” says Chicoine. “We’re trying to be sensitive to that, figuring out ways to celebrate them and to really help them create some good community moments with one another.”
Mullins’ team is planning to host its 20th Annual Undergraduate Awards Banquet online. The virtual event will be held via Zoom on May 5 to honor outstanding students and faculty members.
“We know students love the in-person connection, and we do, too, but we’re all adapting,” says Chicoine. “Even though things look a little different, we’re hoping these events will still be impactful and effective for students. And if what we’re doing is not fitting the bill exactly, we’ll adapt and we’ll adjust, like we always do.”