Don't miss the upcoming West Coast Virtual Fairs 2021, presented to you jointly by SFU, UBC and UVIC. All students are welcome to join us in this virtual event to connect.
For more info such as lists of exhibitors and resources on how to prepare for the fair, please visit our website at sfu.ca/career. Login September 27th to pre-book sessions and plan to attend our prep day October 4th.
In early 2020, SFU students, faculty, and staff members faced an unprecedented situation as all classes and services became remote, physical gatherings were banned, and people struggled to adjust. Job-seeking students and alumni faced barriers to events and fairs they relied on each year for opportunities.
Despite this new reality, Jocelyn Loi, the Employer Relations Manager at the SFU Career and Volunteer Services (CVS) set out to create another possibility: a career fair, virtual version. Jocelyn was hearing from employers who wanted to connect with students, and was motivated to give SFU students hope. Approaching colleagues at UBC and UVic, they formed a partnership, got organized, and attracted hundreds of exhibitors to the first virtual fair.
Now running for the 3rd time, the West Coast Virtual Fair has continued to attract thousands of students and hundreds of exhibitors to share hiring info, and promote jobs, volunteer, and graduate school openings. Students and alumni have loved meeting and discovering career possibilities, while exhibitors have enjoyed meeting potential new hires.
The success of these fairs would not be possible without Jocelyn and her team. Here’s more about her experience, and how to get involved in the upcoming fair (October 4-7, 2021).
Interview by Career and Volunteer Services [CVS] Career Peer, Haebin Pan.
Jocelyn Loi: In early 2020, when I heard the university was locking down, I realized we may not be getting an in-person job fair. I connected with my colleague Albert Fung to discuss ways to offer hope to job seekers with the possibility of something virtual. I also wanted to collaborate with different institutions to get more exhibitors and working power, and a wonderful committee was formed across UBC (Vancouver and Okanagan) and UVic. This amazing collaboration helped the virtual job fair to get an awesome start.
JL: It was easy to collaborate with other institutions, working as a team with the shared goal to instill a sense of hope in our students. Finding the right software program was another story. We wanted one that fit our purpose and met the university’s privacy parameters. Research, hard work, and communication with the privacy office eventually led us to a great platform that was easy to use.
Another great bonus was that exhibitors shared information online like hiring practices and skills in demand. Once students signed up, then could have access to research about organizations before meeting them (which gave them an edge) and could then visit that online portal again after the fair, which is so helpful as they continue their career journeys. This will be the same for this year’s fair – once you register, you have access.
JL: Every year, exhibitors used to gather in SFU’s AQ Hall. Now we are virtual until the university gives permission to bring back in-person events. A hybrid model for job fairs could work well in the future, too. We have seen more diversity in exhibitors than in the past, since online can be more flexible for time commitments, budgets and funding. Plus, 50% of students indicated they prefer a virtual fair over an in-person event. We’ll see if that changes after our fall fair.
JL: This has been a stressful time for a lot of people, especially for young people, with the lack of certainty. Networking is one of the best ways to find out about career pathways, and the pandemic has limited us. Students and new grads might think of different ways to reach out to employers or for volunteer options, such as attending our upcoming fair and student prep day, checking out our workshops on strategic work search, and signing up for info sessions at CVS.
The economy and the ways we are working are changing. Remote work opportunities are increasing, employers are hiring again, and we have attracted more exhibitors to this fall fair than ever before!
Lastly, I encourage students to be kind to yourself, and reach out to your network of support. If you aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like, SFU staff are willing and here to help you get where you want to be!