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While typical preparations for a career fair may involve printing resumes, putting on the right professional shoes, and making sure you beat the line to Lerner Hall, the virtual dynamics of impressing your potential employer follow a different set of standards. The Virtual Engineering Career Fair will be held this Friday, September 25th and more “micro” career fairs will be held throughout the year, so it is never too early to start preparing. Begin getting ready with this checklist of everything you need to do beforehand.

Establish an online presence

You may be familiar with LinkedIn, an online professional platform that showcases people’s experience and accomplishments. However, to really make an impact before the career fair, create Handshake and Brazen profiles as well. Handshake is a helpful tool in applying to jobs as a college student, and Brazen is the platform on which virtual career fairs are being held. As you speak to employers one-on-one during the event, you will have the opportunity to share your LinkedIn profile through your Brazen account so make sure that is up to date. For more information on how to use LinkedIn and Handshake effectively, be sure to check out Spectrum’s article.

Familiarize yourself with Brazen

While it may seem intimidating at first, the program is generally user-friendly. After making an account and entering the event, you will be taken to a virtual lobby with a section for each company in attendance. You can add yourself to the waitlist of any company to speak to a representative for a limited amount of time. For added convenience, you can join multiple waitlists at a time. If you are talking to a representative when your turn to speak to another employer comes up, that employer will move onto the next candidate and your place in line will be saved while you finish your current conversation.

Once an invitation to chat does pop up, make sure you accept it because the invitation will eventually time out. The default method of communication is to use the chat, so you should always make sure your chat status is set to “available” during the event. There will be the option to use your microphone and camera to communicate as well. Once your conversation has timed out, you can rate the representative you were speaking to, take notes, and send them a final message. Don’t worry about losing your chats in each room, as they will be saved automatically for you to view later on. To get a better idea of how the system works, watch this video posted by Brazen. To check and see if your computer has all the updates and software you need to use Brazen, you can complete a service check.

Research the companies

The Center for Career Education posts the event details for each career fair on Handshake. Along with this information is a list of all the companies that will be in attendance. You can use this list to figure out what jobs are open and to narrow down which opportunities interest you the most; you can also see what companies are hiring people from your school year. Once you look through all of them, make your own list of the employers you will want to talk to during the event and research each company beforehand.

Day of the career fair

Due to the pandemic, we can sometimes forget to change our shirts and wash our hair every day, especially with the craziness of virtual classes. However, you will want to freshen up before the event. The career fair will have the option for you to use video chat, and the University recommends wearing business attire. Not only should your clothes be professional, but your background should be too. If you can, try to find a quiet spot with a decent Internet connection and please, hide that pile of laundry.

Career fairs can be intimidating but there are many upsides to attending a virtual one, as it gives you the opportunity to speak to representatives one-on-one from the comfort of your home. If you would like any more information on how to ace an interview, spice up your resume, or bolster your online presence, make sure to visit Spectrum’s Professional section. We have tips for making the most of CCE and Beyond Barnard, on how to flex your Barnard/Columbia degree during interviews, and much more.

Staff writer Ariana Novo is a SEAS student nervous about the career fair too. Thankfully, she wrote this article to feign confidence. She can be contacted at ariana.novo@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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