By Taylor Fronk
Youngstown State University works to connect students with job and internship opportunities even during the pandemic with virtual career networking. Virtual career fairs and skill-building services are available university-wide, with more specialized services in several colleges, such as the STEM Expo.
Sherri Hrusovski, director of STEM Professional Services, said the expo can help students find a job or an internship and could be an opportunity for networking.
“New employers or different employers will come during different semesters. You never know who you’re going to meet,” she said.
Some employers require a certain class rank, minimum GPA and major for an interview, but many are available to all attending students.
The university held a career fair for all students and majors Sept. 29. The Office of Career and Academic Advising used Handshake to showcase over 5,000 job and internship opportunities.
Justin Edwards, director, said the fair typically brings in around 40-50 employers. This year, the virtual fair featured only 26 employers, but Edwards said students can gain experience by networking and developing their skills — even if they don’t get the job.
Students signed up for individual sessions with potential employers, group sessions and practiced their elevator pitches. Edwards said the virtual sessions are a lot easier on students.
“They don’t have to worry about waiting in line, but also, it can kind of help break that intimidation barrier with an employer,” he said.
Edwards said it’s a high-quality opportunity for students of all years, especially those who may not understand all the opportunities available in the area.
“Cafaro is known for real estate, but they do a lot more than that,” he said. “They need people to write stuff up for their social media. They need graphic designers. There’s a lot that companies need, but you might not know that if you don’t expose yourself to events like this.”
Shepherd of the Valley was one of the employers participating in the fair. Kelly Kenyhercz, corporate coordinator for recruitment, said it is an important event for the facility, too.
“We usually try to get partnered up with universities to speak with the students, because they’re the next generation of the workforce,” she said. “But, of course, with COVID this past spring, things kind of got derailed a little bit, so I was excited to see there was an opportunity to interact with the students again.”
Ed Goist, coordinator for WYSU-FM, said the station was able to have three interviews during its sessions. He said the YSU career fair is always a great place to offer opportunities and promote the station.
“As a public radio station, it’s incumbent on us to continue our recruiting efforts to promote diversity in the workplace,” he said. “It also gives us an opportunity to show students the radio station has opportunities and exists. We are a great resource for students, and we have a lot to offer.”
For students who didn’t secure opportunities related to their major or interests, Edwards said tools like Handshake, which regularly updates and hosts over 10,000 job and internship listings and PathwayU, a career assessment tool, are valuable resources for students.
“It helps them learn about their strengths, their interests and can assess their personality and how they can best fit into the world around them,” Edwards said. “A common misconception is that a self-assessment tool tells you what you should or should not do, but that’s not really what we use it for.”
This year’s virtual STEM Expo runs through Oct. 9. Students can register for the career fair via Handshake. Students can visit the virtual rooms set up in the DeBartolo Stadium Club in Stambaugh Stadium. The rooms can be used for one-on-one interviews and group sessions. For assistance, contact [email protected].
The office of career and academic advising plans to host another Career Day in the spring, though it is unclear if it will be virtual.
Contact the office of career and academic advising by calling 330-941-3515 or emailing [email protected]