School counselors are seeking, finding, and sharing new ways to engage students in college and career readiness activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. One trend that’s on the rise is the virtual career fair. Planning a virtual career fair at your school but not sure where to begin? Today’s post includes five tips to help get you started.
1: Find the helpers.
Enlist the help of fellow school counselors, teachers, parents, student clubs/organizations, community leaders, career development specialists, and local businesses and professionals. Include enthusiastic individuals who are interested in helping to plan, promote, and/or sponsor your event to make it a success.
2: Check your tech.
Identify the digital tools that will bring your virtual career fair to life. While there are plenty of virtual career fair platform providers to choose from, they tend to be geared to job recruitment at the college level and above and their services come with a fee. If you’re looking for something free, check out Google Sites, which is the most popular option we’ve seen.
You may want to consider integrating using Zoom or Google Meet for live interactive Q&A sessions between students and guest speakers. If you're leaning toward collecting videos of your guest speakers, Flipgrid is a popular video collection tool.
3: Recruit local experts.
Spread the word (through your school newsletter or social media) that you’re hosting an upcoming virtual career fair and asking for local professionals and employers to participate in order to expose students to a wide variety of careers in your area. Direct interested parties to a Google form where they can register to confirm their interest and receive instructions on how to participate and/or record and submit their videos or prepare for your event.
If you opt to go the video route, collect at least two videos for every career cluster. (For example, if you’re using the National Career Clusters Framework®, you’ll want a total of 32 videos.)
Here are some sample instructions that you can tailor to your needs. If you're going the video route, include instructions on how participants should submit and label their videos so you can later save them on your preferred video hosting platform.
[School Name] Virtual Career Fair Participation Form
Please prepare responses to the following questions. (If you're providing a video, aim for 5-10 minutes.)
- State your name, title, and organization.
- Briefly describe what led you to your current job (include details such as whether you always knew you would do this, any unsuccessful work experiences or promotions that led you to your current job, etc.)
- What education training, and/or experience did you have to complete in order to attain your current job?
- Explain your role and the skills that are required for your position.
- What does an average day look like for you?
- What is the best part of your job?
- What is the most challenging part of your job?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What advice would you give to students in finding a career they enjoy?
- What advice would you give to students to prepare for an interview?
- What is the job outlook for your occupation?
You may also want to ask students what questions they have for the guest speakers in advance of the event so that guest speakers can answer them during their presentations. If you’re not able to involve your local community and create a library of recordings, you can simply direct students to the videos in Kuder Navigator® – or supplement them with the collection in DreamWakers Daily Video series.
4: Curate your content.
Our favorite virtual career fair sites include simple, user-friendly navigation menus with tabs like “Career Videos” (broken down by career cluster categories), “Resources” (with links to Navigator, state or regional labor market information, etc.), and “Activities” (with links to online career jeopardy games, career crossword puzzles, JumpStart’s Reality Check, or others created by you or third parties). Additional resources could include links to job shadows, your school or district’s CTE programs, or school-to-work/internship opportunities. Be sure to include a link to contact the event organizer in case student attendees have questions.
Round up all the career readiness resources available to you in your school, district, or state. For example, if you’re using Navigator, make it a centerpiece of your virtual career fair with an activity that helps students gain self-awareness and explore careers at the same time. Mary Pouch, Indiana field trainer for Kuder, shared these ideas for incorporating a Navigator activity into a virtual career fair that you can copy and paste into your virtual career fair site:
[School Name] Virtual Career Fair: Kuder Navigator Activity for Students
Step 1: Log into your Navigator account (or access Navigator via the school’s or state’s unique Kuder system).
Step 2: Complete the Kuder Career Interests Assessment® (KCIA). If you’ve already done so, skip to Step 3.
Step 3: Explore your KCIA results and watch one occupational description video from each of your top five career interest pathways (there will be five videos).
Step 4: Read the Person Match informational interviews on the “Person Match” tab in your KCIA report.
Step 5: Select the “Search for Occupations by Title” tab and search for the occupations of your Person Matches. Next, watch the videos that are located on the occupation description page for each.
To assist students in completing this activity during your virtual career fair, you could record a short video where you demonstrate each step above and tell students when to “pause” and go into Navigator to follow the instructions you’ve just demonstrated.
5: Ask for feedback.
Encourage feedback from students by including a link to a survey in your virtual career fair site. A survey will help you measure the effectiveness of your event. Here’s an example of what that might look like:
[School Name] Virtual Career Fair Survey
Please take a few minutes to give us some feedback on our Virtual Career Fair!
- I am in ____ grade.
- I watched ___ career videos.
- All of them!
- My favorite Virtual Career Fair Activity was __________________.
- A career that was more interesting to me than I thought it would be is ____________.
- A new career that I saw that I plan to learn more about is __________.
- A career I thought I might like but now I don't is __________.
- The virtual career fair was a valuable use of my time. (True/False)
- One takeaway or new idea I'm leaving the Virtual Career Fair with is ______________________.
If at all possible, set up a time for a Google Meet or Zoom call where you and other school counselors and teachers moderate a live interaction session with students. Whether this takes place on the day of the fair or at a later time, it will give students the chance to share their takeaways, exchange knowledge with their peers and school mentors, and complete a group activity of some kind. Students can tell you what they've learned about themselves, discuss the occupations they explored and found interesting, explain which interviews excited them and why, identify the next steps for their own career exploration, and resolve any questions they still have about career planning.
Ask the Kuder Coach: Any tips on organizing a high school career fair?
Ask the Kuder Coach: Do you have any career fair tips for students?
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