As we enter the throes of a national lockdown (is it the second or third?), staff and students are all returning to our desks in spare rooms (if we have that luxury), balancing the laptop whilst still in bed. Or, as I’ve done on a few occasions recently, walking round my house trying to find the spot where 4G magically kicks in on my phone so I can at least check and respond to a few e-mails. It’s all unfortunately starting to feel a bit too familiar.
In the first national lockdown back in March when things were new, as a member of staff my main reflection was the vast amount of learning and familiarisation which was needed to understand the different online platforms; ‘you’re on mute!’ being the least of my worries. Looking back at the summer and autumn terms where delivery was blended with a heavy emphasis on remote learning, we all started to become familiar with Teams and other online platforms where it felt at times you were visiting the living rooms of an audience around the world on a daily basis. And whilst our comfort in using online platforms has rapidly grown, graduate recruiters have also had to adapt. Back in June, we considered the advantages and pitfalls of working digitally. Now, given the majority of careers events will be digital for the next few weeks, I thought it would be worth sharing some advice on how to navigate the digital events that spring term brings.
It takes about 30 seconds to sign up to an event you see advertised on MyAdvantage, and it’s perhaps two or three weeks away. In those 30 seconds you have said you are going to do something – turn up to an event – so now do it!
Most careers services across the country will tell you one of the biggest issues they grapple with is students who sign up but don’t then turn up. I’m sure many will have been in a situation where you’ve really wanted to attend something- a gig, night out, event etc. and then found out annoyingly that it’s fully booked. In reality there will be a few seats where people simply didn’t bother to turn up. You could have got in if someone cancelled their place or just not booked in the first place knowing they can’t attend. Similarly for popular careers events there are often long waiting lists – so if you find you can no longer attend, please remember to cancel so someone else can take your place. Check on MyAdvantage for details on how to cancel your place.
If you can’t make an event and can’t cancel do drop the host an e-mail to apologise. If you had technology issues which prevented, you from attending then say so. You may still be able to connect with a specific employer if you take the trouble to make contact and explain.
When you engage with events and activities online, treat these as you would any in-person event. Arrive just before the published start time and check your technology works. Being on time creates a great first impression and ensures you get all the information needed. You’ll also want to check whether there are rules about turning your camera on. It is generally preferred to turn your camera on, that way the other person can see you and it can help with more meaningful conversations and make you feel more involved and interested.
Comments you post in the event will appear to all attendees of that session – avoid sharing any personal information or anything else you wouldn’t want everyone to see. Keep comments respectful and on topic, do your research beforehand and be kind. Asking a relevant question or making an informed comment can create an excellent impression at employer events and ensure that you are remembered for the right reasons.
As we are learning, during the pandemic the switch to online delivery is not always the easiest path to navigate. One of the things which I’ve found really heartening over the past few months is how supportive the Warwick community of students is. It might be helping each other out when technology doesn’t work, sharing resources on screens when technology fails or being patient when staff are trying to set up breakout rooms in Teams (I’ve been there!). This willingness is exemplary and hopefully should also reassure anyone hesitant of attending these events and meetings online. Provided you commit to the engagement there is a strong community of support and understanding behind you.
Make the most of the digital events available. The Spring Careers Festival launches at the end of January so make the most of the virtual opportunities you do have to hear from graduate recruiters, sign up for skills workshops and presentations and continue to develop your proficiency. You’ll need these skills once you do enter the workplace – whether you are working in-person or virtually.