All posts by smmeller

How to Recruit 365 with Minimal Additional Expense – Virtual Career Fairs

General Motors (GM) is investing $1 billion to expand the Warren Tech Center outside Detroit, Michigan. This expansion will create 2,600 jobs. GM’s main challenge: finding the talent to staff it! “We have to meet or beat the talent levels in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs around the world,” says GM product chief Mark Reuss, but the question is how they will find it.

Five years ago universities could host two traditional career fairs and satisfy industry recruitment needs. The typical recruiting season included a five-week cycle in September and a second season in February, but with the 2018 unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, a 17 year low, and industry needs increasing, year-round recruitment has become a necessity.

So how do university career centers accommodate the 365-day recruitment season? They create convenient and affordable opportunities for companies to connect with student talent. Career centers can supplement career fair season with more low cost, high impact Virtual Career Fairs by utilizing evolving online platforms. When universities and colleges collaborate to offer multi-university virtual career fairs, they’re giving employers a one-stop recruitment shop.

On Monday, April 9, 2018, ten Michigan universities attended the Michigan Public Universities Virtual Career Fair, hosted by Michigan Technological University. University participants included:

  • Central Michigan University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Ferris State Universitytrabalhar_em_casa
  • Michigan State University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Oakland University
  • Saginaw Valley State University
  • University of Michigan – Dearborn
  • University of Michigan – Flint
  • Western Michigan University

Prior to the fair, students could post a personal profile, upload their resume, and research registered companies.

Using the digital platform Brazen, the event ran from 1:00pm to 4:00pm (EST.) Students were able to see company booths, select the companies they wanted to talk to and could take a stop in their queue. Recruiters were given 10 minutes to engage with each student using text, or a video chat format is also an event option. If needed, companies could add five additional minutes to the discussion, but only five minutes. The average conversation lasted a little over seven minutes.

Recruiters can use the platform to rate students after each interaction. According to survey data, employers indicated they would take action on 60 percent of the students they engaged with at the Michigan Public Universities Virtual Career Fair, meaning they would schedule a follow-up interview or further screening.

“There were quite a few participants, and it was a quick way for me to meet people while still being able to work on some day-to-day items,” reported one student.

Students value the engagement that Brazen offers, opposed to the generic online application process. One student said, “Making the employer and hiring manager’s information available before the event allowed me to do research and develop materials tailored to the positions I wanted. This is what got me a few interviews. So thank you for the help!” Their only recommendation? “More companies!”

Recruiters also had a few suggestions to improve the event, “I would recommend being able to see a list of students for each major and being able to connect with [majors I am looking for] first, versus waiting for them to connect with the employer.”

During the event, GM was one of the top recruiting teams engaging with student participants, proving that virtual career fairs are a valuable tool for hiring organizations to find talent. Magna International, DENSO, Nexteer Automotive, and Technology Resource are other Michigan-based companies that reported high engagement.

On-site, in-person career fairs will continue to be the primary source of recruiting for many employers, but virtual career fairs will continue to grow. As technology evolves, students and recruiters will recognize the benefit of virtual career fairs. Look for more virtual collaborations and career fairs that connect students to growing career opportunities in Michigan and beyond.


Mind Trekkers, Moving to Texas?

San Jacinto College hosted over 4,500 middle school students, teachers and community members at the fourth annual “Adventures in STEM” festival in Pasadena, Texas on March 8-9, 2018. But this is a Michigan Tech blog, so why are we covering news from a college campus 1500 miles south of Houghton?

MT1Since 2015, Michigan Tech has partnered closely with San Jacinto College and local industry to provide thousands of Houston-area youth with opportunities to experience and engage in dynamic STEM activities through hands-on immersion. The collaboration was kindled by a long-standing established partner of both institutions: The Dow Chemical Company. Dow, who has been a supporter of Michigan Tech’s Mind Trekkers since 2013, suggested the success of the Dow Great Lakes Bay STEM Festival held at Delta College would be a good fit in the Houston area. Rob Vallentine, then Global Director of STEM Education and Director of North America Sites Public Affairs, connected Mind Trekkers with Dow’s Houston operations, who identified San Jacinto College as an optimal host for the collaboration.

MT2

Four years later, this partnership has reached over 25,000 Houston-area youth, with the annual festival offered in the early weeks of March on San Jacinto College’s Central Campus. In both 2015 and 2016, Mind Trekkers brought down more than 50 Michigan Tech undergraduate student volunteers on Spring Break to anchor the event with activities and demonstrations, as well as provide the spark and energy required to put on a STEM festival. In 2017, Mind Trekkers sent a crew of 15 students and staff with a new mission: begin building a blueprint for San Jacinto College to sustain the event long into the future while Michigan Tech cultivates new partnerships across the country. Prior to the festival, volunteers spent a week constructing over 50 activities that would remain in Houston, and dialogue began on what a spinoff of the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers model might look like at San Jacinto College. Which brings us to 2018, wherein San Jacinto College produced the event on their own, with only three Michigan Tech students and staff attending to offer support and assistance. The San Jacinto College Mind Trekkers launch was a successful event which we hope we can continue to replicate in other communities.

MT3

The evolution of the event and partnership has been a pillar of pride for both San Jacinto College and Michigan Tech, and none of it would have been possible without the industry engagement and support provided by the likes of Dow, Chevron Phillips, LyondellBasell, Ineos, Lubrizol, East Harris County Manufacturers Association, and many others that are invested in the Houston-area community.

Read San Jacinto’s Story…