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Career Fair Ecampus

What to expect at a virtual career fair

laptop on a desk showing a screen with two people having a video conversation

If you think attending a career fair means putting on a suit and handing out paper resumes in a crowded room, think again.

Yes, in-person career fairs are still an option, but in recent years virtual career fairs have become a valuable way for employers to connect with capable candidates they might not encounter otherwise.

If you’re thinking about attending a virtual career fair, here’s what you need to know:

1. Register on Handshake, Oregon State’s virtual career fair platform.

Handshake is a tool widely used by universities as a connection point between college students and the employers who want to hire them. All OSU students already have free access to Handshake’s job boards and career tools. Before you attend a virtual career fair, log in to Handshake and update your profile.

Treat your Handshake profile like LinkedIn or a virtual resume – it’s your way to show off your skills to employers. Make sure that your major, GPA, work authorization status and other information is correct. When you’re done, update your profile privacy settings – OSU student profiles are private by default, but before attending a career fair you should update it so that it is visible to employers.

2. Select your virtual career fair.

In Handshake, navigate to “Events” and then use the filters at the top of the page to select “Category – Career Fair” and “Medium – Virtual.” Click on the fairs you’re interested in, and select “register.”

Screenshot showing a Handshake landing page listing multiple virtual career fairs.

3. Decide which employer sessions to attend.

Employers from all over the globe attend Oregon State virtual fairs, creating either one-on-one or group info sessions for students. Browse through the listings, and register in advance for sessions with companies you are interested in. On the day of the fair, you will only be able to attend the sessions you’ve registered for!

4. Double check your technology.

You’ll need a good internet connection, and a device with speakers, a microphone, and a supported browser (note: Internet Explorer is not supported). See Handshake’s guide to technology for virtual events.

5. Prep for your sessions.

During sessions, employers will spend some time sharing info about their organization, and you’ll also have the chance to talk about yourself via audio, video, or text chat. Plan in advance so you don’t have to think of things to say off the top of your head!

Research employers. Look at their Handshake profile and their company website, and think of a few questions you can ask about what they do.

• Prep an elevator pitch. This is your chance to shine! It’s easy to get tongue-tied when someone says “tell me about yourself,” so use our elevator pitch tips to pre-plan a few sentences talking about who you are and what you’re interested in.

Dress for confidence and comfort. Even at a virtual career fair, you should treat the experience like a professional networking event. Make sure your entire outfit is presentable and you’re wearing clothes that make you feel confident. See our tips for how to dress.

6. Follow up afterward.

Even if you’re not ready to accept a full-time job right now, the connections you make at a virtual career fair can help you build your professional network. After the fair, stay in touch!

When a session ends, a pop up will automatically appear allowing you to message the hosts.

Screenshot showing a Handshake screen titled "continue the conversation" with links to message session hosts.

If you’re not ready to send a message immediately, write down their name. Later on, you can find them on Handshake or LinkedIn and connect with them.

Need help? We’re here.

Have questions about how to register or participate in a virtual career fair? Contact us and ask!

If you need help at any point during a virtual career fair, real humans from the OSU Career Development Center are available for the duration of the fair via the Virtual Help Room. Click on the “Join Virtual Room Help” button in the top right corner of your screen and we’ll be happy to help.

Screenshot showing a Handshake screen with an orange arrow pointing at a button that says "Join Virtual Room Help."

Learn more about virtual career fairs

Handshake’s guide to attending a virtual fair

10 Tips for Attending a Virtual Career Fair

Categories
Career Fair Internships Success Stories

Internship exploration

Can an online search really lead to landing an internship?

Oregon State student Adam Henderson found that if you’re searching in the right places, it actually can.

Adam, a finance major, already had solid work experience and a foundation of coursework from the OSU School of Business when he began thinking about internships during his junior year. In the past, he had worked in retail, at The Home Depot near his hometown of Sammamish, Wash.

But as he pictured his options for the summer going into his senior year of college, he was hoping for something more directly related to his goal of a career in finance – and something that would allow him to stay closer to the connections he’d formed while in school.

“I was trying to get ahead, and I knew I wanted to stay in Corvallis if I could,” Adam said. “So I went on Handshake and started looking up job offers and internship offers in the Corvallis area.”

Handshake, a job and internship site designed for college students and recent graduates, allows students to personalize their job search experience, setting up custom filters for job types, locations, and roles they’re interested in. Handshake job postings are vetted for legitimacy before they’re made visible to students.

As Adam browsed through the Handshake listings that met his criteria, a position with State Farm Insurance caught his eye – it was local to Corvallis, it would give him relevant business and sales experience, and it was with a company he trusted.

Adam Henderson, wearing a black OSU polo shirt and khaki pants, poses in front of a sign that says "State Farm, Jim Kuhlman Agent"
Adam Henderson, a finance major at Oregon State, found a local internship via the Handshake job search tool.

“I have State Farm insurance,” he said. “I feel like it’s a very reputable company. So I thought, why not give it a shot?”

His application caught the eye of Jim Kuhlman, an independent State Farm insurance agent in Corvallis. After the application, Adam was invited for a phone interview, followed by an aptitude test and in-person meeting with Jim, where he was offered an internship with the agency. 

Six months in, Adam’s summer internship has been extended into the school year, and he’s still glad he gave it a shot.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve had pretty good success,” Adam said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and how much potential I have.”

His internship involves everything from shadowing the sales team to working on marketing projects and meeting with customers. Through what he learned in his position with State Farm, he was even able to complete required state testing and is now officially licensed to sell insurance.

Now mid-way through his senior year, Adam is keeping his options open when it comes to jobs – he enjoys his work in insurance, but is also interested in careers in finance. Regardless of where his career takes him, he can already see skills he’ll take with him from his internship.

“The whole aspect of creating value is something we talk about a lot. When you’re selling insurance, a lot of times customers only think, ‘What’s the cost?’ You can break that down and go through it with them, but it’s really the value that sells the customer,” he said. 

“That overlaps into a lot of other jobs. When you create value for someone , they’re more likely to trust you and want to work with you. Learning to create and display the best value you can bring to someone is definitely something I’ll take away.”

Handshake internship search tips

There are thousands of positions posted on Handshake — here’s how to narrow down your options to find the internship or job that’s right for you!

  1. Use Handshake’s custom filters. Narrowing jobs by “location” (the cities you want to work in) and “job type” (part-time, full-time, internship) will help you key in on relevant opportunities.
  2. Use keywords. If you’re interested in any job that’s somehow related to “marketing” or “sustainability” but aren’t picky about the specific job title, do a keyword search on your filtered jobs. Handshake’s keyword search will search all text in job titles and job descriptions to find matches.
  3. Save jobs that catch your eye. When you hit “save” on a job posting, Handshake will automatically start showing you similar jobs next time you log in. It will also send you reminders about deadlines for jobs you’ve saved.

Learn more about getting started on Handshake.