How to navigate a Virtual Career Fair in 2021


Karla DeBruin

The 2021 Spring Career Fair Guide


Last semester, UNI Career Services held the university’s first virtual Career Fair, moving the event online due to the COVID-19 pandemic rather than hosting it in the McLeod Center as in the past. Now, as the spring 2021 Career Fair approaches and the pandemic continues, the procedures will be much the same, according to Career Services Coordinator Joann Mulholland.

“From the student perspective, the fair will function virtually the same as last semester,” Mulholland wrote in an email to the Northern Iowan.

The spring 2021 Career Fair will take place on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., through an online platform called Handshake.

The virtual fair will allow students to meet with employers in scheduled sessions, either one-on-one or in a small group. One-on-one sessions will take the form of ten-minute video chats with a representative from the employer, while group sessions will last up to 30 minutes and will give students an overview of the company and available opportunities.

As in the fall semester, Career Services advises students to register for the fair as early as possible by visiting and clicking on “Career Center” and then “University of Northern Iowa Spring 2021 Career Fair (Virtual).”

Students should also plan ahead to schedule their sessions, because although students can still sign up for sessions on the day of the event, many sessions may already be filled by that time.

Since things are virtual, Career Services has shared some specific Zoom-related tips for attendees. Among them: check your camera and audio beforehand, find a clean and non-distracting background and have a paper and pen nearby to take notes. Of course, business casual or professional dress is still recommended, and students should be prepared to give a 30-second introduction and have their resumes uploaded to the Handshake portal.

Mulholland said that Career Services wants to emphasize that the fair is for all majors and grade levels. In addition to full-time jobs, employers are often looking to fill internship positions, and many employers are open to students of any major.

According to Mulholland, as of Monday, Feb. 8, Career Services had 100 employers registered to attend the virtual fair. A full list of employers who will be present at the virtual fair may be found on p. 6 of this issue of the Northern Iowan.

While this is a decline from the 153 employers who attended last spring’s in-person fair, Mulholland said that the success of the fall fair makes Career Services confident that students will be able to forge plenty of valuable relationships with employers.

“During the (fall 2020) fair, 2,219 unique student-employer connections were facilitated,” she wrote. “Students and employers both reported enjoying the virtual format and felt they were able to create meaningful connections in the ten-minute (one-on-one) sessions and 30-minute group sessions. We are looking forward to an equally successful Spring 2021 Virtual Career Fair on February 18th!”

Students interested in attending the virtual Career Fair should visit for information on registration, signing up for sessions and tips for success.