When I started the M.S. in Commerce Program this year, I knew that the job search process would be different than it was for past students due to the pandemic and its impact on in-person, on-Grounds recruiting. Despite the circumstances, Commerce Career Services (CCS) has been very helpful in providing students with valuable resources to use during the job search and offer acceptance process. These resources range from virtual one-on-one and group chats with a Career Services adviser, virtual career fairs, and connections to M.S. in Commerce alumni in various positions and locations around the country. Each of these resources is readily available to all M.S. in Commerce students and have been a huge help during my job search process this year.
The CCS team has worked hard to make our job search experience as close to how it is when employers are able to come to Grounds. One of the opportunities they put together recently was the fall 2020 Virtual Career Fair. Although career fairs are usually held in person, this year’s was hosted on Handshake, UVA’s job search platform.
In the weeks leading up to the event, companies posted their information about open positions and who from their organization would be attending the virtual career fair on Handshake. Students were then able to browse through the positions and research various companies they were interested in. Then, about a week before the event, students were able to sign up for general information sessions with companies or sign up for a one-on-one conversation with their representatives.
Although this format was certainly not the norm, I still found it to be beneficial for me in the job search. First, with the information provided beforehand, I was able to have plenty of time to research various companies ahead of time and prepare for the information sessions and chats, all while making it work with my class schedule. The one-on-one conversations were also great because I was able to ask the company representatives questions and figure out what they were looking for in a potential candidate. I was also able to do some research on companies that I had not previously known about or considered as a place I’d want to work in the future. Overall, the virtual career fair offered a level of flexibility and personalization that I hadn’t expected and ended up enjoying a lot.
CCS advising appointments have also been extremely helpful to me throughout the semester. Whether a virtual group conversation with an adviser or a personalized one-on-one chat, each of my interactions with the CCS advisers have taught me something new and helped me along the way. The CCS team also offers opportunities to review resumes; practice case interviews; educate on the application, interview, and offer acceptance processes; and so much more. Overall, I find it comforting and encouraging to know that no matter where students are in the search process, CCS is always available and willing to help.
Another cool opportunity I’ve been able to take advantage of is networking with alumni. CCS keeps a running list of McIntire alumni who are interested in chatting with current students about their own job search process and their professional experiences. This list made networking more accessible and efficient for many students, since we knew the alumni included were interested in helping us. It also allowed me to find which alumni had backgrounds similar to mine or who was working for companies that I took interest in. So far, my conversations with these alumni have been crucial in deciding what kind of professional experience and job positions would work best for my long-term career goals.
CCS and McIntire also organized various panels and events where M.S. in Commerce students got to hear from alumni and ask questions about their job experiences. These virtual panels and events were always very informational and interesting. I was able to learn about various companies that I didn’t know much about prior to the event and was able to network with professionals that I otherwise might not have been able to contact on my own.
Overall, the job search process this year has no doubt been unique, but has remained engaging and accessible. McIntire has been able to provide its M.S. in Commerce students with the tools needed to explore jobs and interact with alumni in order to accomplish their career goals.