For 15 years, the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) has partnered with the Government College Relations Council (GCRC) to help students and alumni find opportunities with government employers. Traditionally, the annual GCRC Government Job Fair has been in-person and open to students and alumni from UIC and 5 other GCRC member schools and within the Chicago area. Since 2020, the fair has been held virtually. In 2021, UIC hosted it as an open multi-school virtual fair with over 30 other institutions!
Curious to see how inviting more schools impacted the fair? Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves:
3 tips when planning multi-school virtual fairs
Jaime Velasquez, UIC’s Associate Director for Employer Relations, shared his top 3 tips for hosting multi-school virtual fairs within Handshake.
1) Prep your attendees
“The one tip I have for schools hosting virtual fairs is to fully prep both recruiters and students! Be accessible and provide them with as much information as you can before the fair.”
Jamie says 95% of planning a virtual fair is marketing the fair to students and employers and ensuring they know how to get the most out of the experience. Here are his 3 recommendations to market a virtual fair:
- Communicate Regularly with Attendees: Start marketing the fair to students and employers 2 months in advance via email. Then, send follow up emails every 1.5 - 2 weeks. (Pro-tip: Use targeted email templates to get this set up quickly!)
- Schedule Pre-Fair Training Sessions: Host a Q&A session 2 days before the fair to address employers and student questions.
- Host Additional Employer Sessions: Work with in-demand employers to schedule additional sessions outside of the fair to help with student overflow.
2) Two heads is better than one
“Planning this multi-school virtual fair only took 2 months. It was less stressful because I had the help of my partner schools and also didn’t need to physically reserve rooms for an in-person fair, order catering, or print materials!”
Hosting a multi-school virtual fair isn’t as daunting as it may sound, especially since you get to work with other schools. Jaime shared that the process was less stressful for him, as the work was collaborative and everyone divided and conquered.
3) Expand your invite list
“This year – we had more out of state agencies reach out because the fair was virtual; otherwise, they wouldn’t have connected with us.”
With a 76% uptick in employer registrations, it's clear that hosting a virtual fair with multiple institutions helps drive more employer interest. Overall, this year’s GCRC fair was so well-received that UIC has been asked to host a Federal Job Fair in April 2022 for the HSI Consortium with 14 other institutions. This will be Jaime’s first time hosting a fair with only federal employers, and he already plans to model the fair after the GCRC Government Job Fair!
Interested in hosting multi-school virtual fairs?
Check out these additional resources: