There is a problem with the standard, multi-disciplinary career fairs. Students and job seekers are asked to walk into a room with a large numbers of employers, ask questions, and try to find a good fit. Then, they are supposed to grab a business card, drop off a resume, and hope a job turns up.
This method is not efficient, and more importantly, not very appealing. Your average attendee will walk away with no more than some schwag, the feeling they missed an important company, and little hope for a future career. However, Washington University is trying a new approach. They are flipping the model.
These “career slams,” as they are called, are topic-specific, such as STEM-based careers, social impact careers, or communications careers, to ensure the right students attend. At each one, every company gets 45 seconds to pitch the crowd of about 200 students. Once complete, the students can gravitate toward who had the “elevator pitch” that best appealed to them. The student is also armed with some info going into the conversation with the company to help them learn more about what a career would offer them. It’s a great method to put the college students in control.
Another method, used by The University of Colorado at Boulder, offers speed-interviews. Think speed-dating, but for a career. College students are given five minutes to interview one-on-one with a recruiter before switching to the next. This method forces each party to get the important ideas out there fast to see if there is value in continuing the conversation in a formal interview. Again, this method helps the students get direct attention during the five-minute windows.
Other schools, such as University of Michigan School of Information, are combining traditional career fairs and student project work fairs where both parties get to present about themselves to find a good match over the course of the day.
While the traditional multi-disciplinary career fair is not going away, these new variations put the employer and job-seeker on a more even playing field, helping each party pair with the best possible partner for future career success.