Not the handshake expected at a career fair

Tips for navigating a virtual career fair


Career Adviser Isabella Virrueta

Hannah Avdic, Business and Technology Editor

Events, such as career fairs, are necessary for students’ chances for employment and internships. An excellent team at Career and Leadership Development is working hard to present students with opportunities and to engage with companies looking to hire UW-Whitewater grads, despite current in-person regulations. 

This spring, Career and Leadership Development presented students with three virtual career fairs. Two took place Feb. 10 and 23, and the third is coming up Tuesday, Mar. 30. The March event will focus on sciences, human resources, education, nonprofit and government. There will also be the opportunity to meet with companies who are looking to fill summer positions. 

For those who have participated in a career fair in the past, you may have memories of a crowded room, filled with eager students and company representatives. A virtual career fair is much different. There is no need to wait in line to speak to companies you’re interested in. Students can set up ten-minute meetings via Handshake with any of the participating companies. 

With the virtual career fairs, you can build your own schedule to meet employers,” explains career adviser Isabella Virrueta. “In an in-person career fair, you would visit booths in real-time. Handshake is a great scheduler and will not let you double-book yourself or book two one-on-one appointments at the same time. Because you are not in-person, do your best to make a connection with the employers you meet with.”

Career Technology Coordinator Kim Apel

The benefits of this setup are twofold. Students can do a little research on the companies beforehand and don’t need to wait in line to meet with representatives. Companies know which students they will meet with, allowing them to view the students’ resumes and look them up on platforms like Handshake and LinkedIn. Beyond that, meetings are one-on-one, meaning those ten minutes are dedicated to you specifically and there is no need to worry about the person waiting in line behind you. 

It’s important that students have an up-to-date Handshake profile, including your resume because this is the first thing employers are seeing.

Career & Leadership Development staff can help you with both of these things ahead of the fair to help you put your best foot forward during a career fair.  We offer drop-in WebEx hours Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and also offer virtual appointments for in-depth questions,” states career technology coordinator Kim Apel. 

Students also have access to the “resume doctor,” hosted by senior business career adviser Frank Lanko. This gives students the opportunity to stop in via Webex and get helpful tips for creating the perfect resume. 

The ‘Resume Doctor’ program has been running Monday through Thursday between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. throughout February, and we plan to offer it again in the weeks leading up to the March 30 career fair date,” says Lanko. 

Sign up early for sessions because they fill up fast. Knowing who you are going to talk to gives you the opportunity to do some research by looking at company websites. Be prepared with your elevator pitch and a few questions, leaving little room for embarrassment when you’re put on the spot. 

Senior Business Career Adviser Frank Lanko

“Have a quiet, well-lit place for your one-on-one meetings, a clean room or background, you want to have a professional-looking space. Dress professionally, it helps put you in a different mindset. You don’t want to meet your potential future employer in your PJs! Make sure your audio and camera work on your phone or computer or tablet, if you are using your phone or tablet you must use the Handshake App,” says Virrueta. 

And just like in a traditional career fair setting it’s important to remember the following:

“Ask lots of questions, be sure to get contact information before you leave, and be yourself! Take deep breaths before your one-on-one and do your best to relax. Remember the employers are here to see you,” Virrueta adds.

For further questions, contact [email protected], visit the Webex room at,or call 262-472-1471 to set up an appointment.