Students Not Showing Up at Career Networking Events?
During our Wisr Summit Series events, we always ask attendees what challenges they’re most interested in discussing. Time and time again, “engaging students and alumni” is at the top of the list.
For career services professionals, it’s hard to understand why underclassmen students don’t take advantage of the many career discovery and exploration resources available to them. Especially when career networking events have free pizza! Here are a few reasons your career networking event may not be as attractive as you might think:
Why Go to Career Networking Events When I Have Online Resources?
Students might not always understand that there is a difference between submitting a resume via the online job board and handing it to the hiring manager at a career fair. When students do come to career networking events, they’re looking for information they can’t find anywhere else. When students ask a question, they don’t want to hear “you can find that on our website.”
Tip: Devote your digital marketing efforts to making sure students know how to find online resources on your website. Reserve your career networking events for building relationships between students and employers or alumni.
I Made It to the Event, But I Didn’t Get to Connect With My Target
For students later in their academic journeys, it’s not uncommon that they would have very clear goals for attending specific career networking events, like job fairs. They may have already conducted their research on the participating companies, or even connected with their target companies in advance to learn who from their teams will be on campus. After all, this is a highly impactful networking opportunity, and they need to nail it. There’s nothing more frustrating for a determined student than preparing to deliver their “personal pitch” and arriving at the career fair only to spend the majority of the time waiting in long lines.
Both students and employers benefit more when the networking opportunities are more intimate.
With students vastly outnumbering employers, it’s challenging to stand out. Without a structured process for keeping records on all the students they meet, employers don’t experience the full potential of this type of career networking event, either.
Tip: Reimagine career fairs as a discovery exercise for sophomores and juniors. Sure, it may eventually lead to a job, but the real purpose is to expand students’ awareness of companies related to their interests. For juniors and seniors, offer smaller career networking events that allow for more meaningful discussions between students and employers.
It’s Too Soon For Me to Be Thinking About Jobs
Overwhelmed with their academic responsibilities, some students don’t feel ready to start job hunting on campus. While we’d argue that there is no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to career exploration, you have to meet students where they are. Contrary to the belief that it’s too soon to start thinking about career potential, job hunting is a continuous process. Career discovery opportunities should supplement and advance this process.
Tip: Partner with academic departments and faculty to bring students to where they are — literally. There’s no better place to deliver career development programming than in the classroom.
I Already Know What I Want to Do
Some students, especially those from high socioeconomic backgrounds with parents who expose them to various career exploration opportunities off campus, truly don’t need many of the resources you’re offering.
Tip: Don’t let a low engagement rate at a career networking event discourage you. Use this as a reminder that you are serving student populations who desperately need your services. Re-focus your efforts on reaching those students.