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A career fair can help find future employers.

Even in the midst of uncertainty, finding a career is still possible.

This semester, IUP’s Career and Graduate Fair went virtual due to COVID-19.  To be included at the event, both students and representatives were to register through Handshake, a website that helps students find jobs and internships.

The event was held Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. If in-person, the event would have been held at the Kovalchick Center.

According to the event’s web page on Handshake, the goal is to offer employers a chance “to speak with candidates, discuss their organizations and conduct brief interviews.”

Students were still asked to be prepared for the event as if it were in-person. This includes dressing in business clothing.

Jan Shellenbarger, the coordinator at the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC), helped put the event together. She has helped coordinate the career fair since 2009. This year, she worked with CPDC Assistant Director of Employer Engagement Kevin Fleck on the event.

Shellenbarger said that despite a smaller group of organizations, the fair was a success.

“It was a very decent number of representatives who were interested in speaking to IUP students,” she said.

The virtual meetings provided students both opportunities to have sessions one-on-one and in group settings.

There was an array of different companies at the fair such as Amazon, The Peace Corps and PNC.

Many of the administration and employers have been part of prior fairs. This includes IUP’s Graduate Admissions program represented by Amber Dworek, the director of the program.

Another representative at the event was Susan Staub, a coordinator at Clarion’s Graduate Admissions program. She said that providing virtual fairs helps universities keep students ahead of track.

“Virtual fairs allow students to narrow their job searches to employers and schools they are interested in applying to,” she said.

Staub also said there were negative sides to students meeting potential employers virtually, including the intimate connection that is made from face-to-face meetings.

Because the fair was virtual, students may have had difficulty knowing what to expect. To help ease their stress, Jill Thomas created a video to help students understand how to still keep a professional look and attitude even if there was no face-to-face contact.

The video is called “How to Rock a Virtual Career Fair” and can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm02J54wfLc&feature=youtu.be. Thomas is a representative from Enterprise Rent a Car.

In the video, Thomas gives students tips on assessing themselves before the fair so that they know what they are looking for. She also reminds students about the importance of their “elevator speech.”

“How you’d want to tailor this for the career fair is to cover why you are there,” she said.

She said it is important for students to tell the companies their expected graduation dates because it shows whether they are looking for a job or internship.

Shellenbarger said one of the most helpful parts to this year’s event was their work with Handshake.

“Handshake put together a comprehensive virtual career fair package in a very short period of time in response to the COVID crisis.”

The website even provided both organizations and students with ways to prepare themselves, similar to the way in which Thomas helped.

All IUP students have access to a Handshake account at

iup.joinhandshake.com. Even if students were unable to attend the career fair, they can still get in touch with an array of employers through this account.

For more information on future career opportunities or events, contact The Career and Professional Development Center through phone at (724) 357-2235 or by email at career-development@iup.edu.

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