CS|Source career goes virtual with more than 40 companies participating
August 1, 2020
The first fully CS|Source virtual career and fair and interview day is in the books, with close to 950 students interacting with 41 companies. That translates to 225 company representatives and more than 3,120 chats completed.
"Student-employer connections can be pivotal moments in student careers," said Julia Costello, strategic partnership coodinator for the Department of Computer Science. "Providing students opportunities in the midst of COVID-19 is challenging, but thanks to virtual platforms such as Zoom and Brazen, CS|Source was able to assist students in making those connections through virtual info sessions, a career fair, and course panels."
For junior computer science major Justin Deutsch, he is both excited and nervous about the annual fall career fair moving online. "I don't really know what to expect. I guess it is just acceptable to have your bed in your zoom background as long as it is made these days."
Adaptability tends to be the mantra of companies and students like. Admittedly, students have expressed being nervous about the technology and connection, although share the advantages of not waiting in massive lines and having more accessibility to the companies in this format.
I thought the CS Source Career fair went fairly smoothly. Brazen offered brief summaries of each company on the front page, as well as how many students are waiting to talk to a recruiter for each respected company. It was also nice to click on a company like Lockheed Martin, and see the different recruiters who are attending the event, and to also see if they are available to chat. I personally did not know until the end of the event that you could wait in line to talk to recruiters for multiple companies at once, which would have saved me more time if I read the emails sent out about the fair more closely.
I personally only had the chance to talk with four different companies, and one had offered to take the chat to the video chat feature. Unfortunately for me, my laptop has a front and back webcam, and Brazen did not offer me the opportunity to change the webcam the recruiter views, so when the default webcam chose to be the back camera I had to respectfully ask to keep our conversation to audio only.
Companies that I noticed had long lines were Bank of America, Capital One, and Bloomberg. By the time I finished talking to Lockheed when the event began, Bloomberg's line was 55 students long. I decided to skip talking to them and instead talked to Alion, Lockheed, Peraton, and Viasat.
By noon, unfortunately Brazen faced technical difficulties and could not display the wait times and how many students are waiting to chat to a recruiter. However, fortunately the only issue that was faced, and it did not affect the chances of talking to a recruiter. I know with the Engineering Expo they had issues where the website crashed multiple times, so I am thankful we did not have an issue like that.
I did not take any photos of the career fair, and none of the recruiters that I spoke to had used Zoom to communicate. I do have access to the page still, and have attached a screenshot of what students are greeted with when they logged into the platform and "Entered" the companies page. In my image titled "Company page.PNG" , during the event there was a chat button on the top right part of the page. Since the event is no longer in session, the button was disabled and off the page. A nice feature of Brazen that I should mention is that students can look back on the transcript of their chat messages between recruiters. This makes it easier to recall the conversation, what company you talked to, the recruiter you spoke to 's name, and the opportunity to see your conversation again, which is a feature in-person career fairs can not create.
I believe the CSRC being fully virtual has a lot of potential, but there were just many technical issues that came with it.
I waited for a while to speak with a recruiter, but found the wait to be too long. When I was eventually connected with a recruiter, the audio didn’t seem to be working properly and while trying to fix the issue, the recruiter seemed to have ended the meeting resulting in me not being able to speak with the recruiter. Overall, there were a lot of technical difficulties, but that comes with everything running online for the first time!
I also believe Handshake proved to be a much more useful platform during the application process. Personally, I was able to get a couple of interviews through my application on Handshake.
Additionally, I attended the CSRC Company Carreer Fair Prep Student Chats on Sunday night and that was a good experience. I think it was helpful to talk to some of the recruiters before the actual fair and see things from their perspective in a much more laid back environment.
I think a helpful feature on Brazen would be the ability to request to talk to a specific recruiter. Often times, students have met a recruiter before and it is helpful to talk to the same recruiter again because we are familiar with them and they might remember us as well. If it is possible, requesting to talk to a specific recruiter would definitely be helpful in my opinion.
Another issue which a lot of people encounter on Brazen was that the website sometimes didn’t show the number of people in line or did not display any sort of wait time. This became frustrating quick because we couldn’t tell when our turn would come.
Once again, I believe that the virtual career fair format is definitely beneficial, but there are some improvements that could be made for the following years.
I hope this feedback is helpful! Let me know if there is anything else that needs to be done!
- While I was able to talk to some of the top companies on my list, the degree to which we were able to speak varied. Some companies would immediately ask you to join an audio or video call while others would first chat then potentially later ask you to join a call, but you already used some of your time. The dynamic varied greatly company to company.
- The connections were certainly helpful. In a few cases, even only text conversations, the company representative encouraged me to apply and said they would then be in touch. That wasn't always the case, however. With some companies, you would wait in line for 20+ minutes (which seemed to be the general standard but the system stopped displaying the wait times) only to have a text conversation. In that text conversation, all the representative would really say is apply on our website at this link. Those experiences were certainly frustrating. There were also a few occasions where I am fairly sure the representative did not know how to use the system. We would be having a great conversation through text or on a call but the time would slowly tick down until we were cut off mid-conversation. I'm thinking they simply weren't aware of how to extend the time or couldn't do it quick enough once they realized it was short.
- Overall, I would say yes, I was able to prsent myself and my qualifications in a meaningful way, but that is mostly due to the in-person conversations I have. Only communicating through text, it is very difficult to explain my background, experiences, or any projects that I have worked on. Talking to someone face to face is a different experience and a much different, and more explicit, means of communicating. When I talked to the representatives through a call, it would naturally flow, and they were often adding time to continue talking. When communicating through the text, time would be added, but it was very apparent that the conversation wasn't as fruitful and slower. It would take much longer to get information across when only communicating through the text.
- A few different companies told me to apply, and they would be in touch. So far, I have received an interview with on company and been notified by another that my resume has been passed along to their relevant group. Noteably, I am only applying to many of the positions today.