Career Services Adapts to New Virtual Recruiting Landscape

Fordham%27s+Career+Services+staff+moves+many+of+its+events+to+a+virtual+format+during+the+COVID-19+pandemic.+%28Courtesy+of+Instagram%29

Fordham’s Career Services staff moves many of its events to a virtual format during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Abbey Delk, News Editor

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fordham’s Career Services department has taken strides to ensure students still have opportunities to meet with employers and find opportunities in a virtual setting.

Last Wednesday, Career Services hosted its sixth completely virtual career fair since April 2020. The event offered students the opportunity to connect students with almost 70 different employers, allowing them to meet recruiters in both one-on-one video chats and group sessions. 

Hosting large events like the career fair in a virtual setting offers both challenges and advantages for students, said Nicole Catalfamo, the associate director of employer relations. “[Students] have to be very intentional with who [they] sign up to speak with,” she said. “Career Services has to be more intentional about who comes to these events.”

Catalfamo explained that without the “foot traffic” of an in-person event, Career Services staff members have to take care to make sure students know which employers will be there and how best to take advantage of their time. 

However, Catalfamo also said the virtual setting allows students to connect more intimately with recruiters in a manner that more closely resembles an interview. “Think about when you’re at an in-person career fair — sometimes there’s a line behind you of students and that can be anxiety-provoking,” explained Catalfamo. “With the virtual fair, you know you have ten solid minutes to talk to an employer in a private room.” 

Moving the traditional career fair to an online format also allows Career Services to connect students with employers all over the country, said Annette McLaughlin, director of Career Services. “It’s really created so many more possibilities,” she said. “We’re borderless right now.” McLaughlin said employers now have more flexibility in scheduling their participation at Career Services events around the rest of their workday without having to travel to campus to meet students. 

In response to the pandemic, Career Services also introduced a new program called “Rams Helping Rams” meant to provide the classes of 2020 and 2021 additional guidance and support finding job opportunities as they near graduation. The initiative “brings together alumni, parents and friends of Fordham with recent graduates” to supply mentoring and networking opportunities and access to new job postings, according to the Career Services website. McLaughlin said the program has been “tremendously well-received” and that several students involved have found job opportunities through the program.

Career Services has also launched new initiatives to help student-athletes connect with alumni and form networks, since their schedules often prevent them from attending workshops and events, said McLaughlin. The department also collaborated with the Commuter Student Association in January for an “accelerated career readiness” program for commuter students at Fordham. 

Overall, McLaughlin said Career Services has ramped up its programming over the last year and provided students with more events and opportunities to network and prepare for their professional lives than ever before. “We’ve had over 600 virtual events for students made available,” she said.

She emphasized the importance of learning how to connect with employers online, both during the pandemic and in its aftermath. “The reality of the situation is that since the pandemic, things have changed,” said McLaughlin. “Speaking to our employer, they’re not going back to the way things were … The world of work is going to continue to be ‘hybrid’ or remote. Even if we don’t like it, we have to figure out how to adapt to it.”

“The more our students connect with employers, the more experience they have interviewing in a virtual space, the more successful they are going to be and the more prepared they are going to be,” said McLaughlin. 

Catalfamo recommended that students stay updated with Career Services events and workshops through Handshake. She also said students should take advantage of the department’s services and begin to build relationships with career counselors sooner rather than later.