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UK career fair goes virtual, participating employers down significantly

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Posted at 8:20 AM, Sep 21, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — University of Kentucky students will get the chance to speak with more than 100 employers this week at the fall career fairs, but this year they will be all online.

“We’ve always offered virtual career fairs, but they’ve always been more of on the margins rather than a mainstream offering for us,” said Ray Clere, director of the Stuckert Career Center.

Clere said it’s going to be a different experience, but they’re trying to help participants get the most out of it. Students will be able to talk with employers either in a group or individually. There are fewer employers this year though.

“We’re tracking about a third less than we normally are this time of year," said Clere. “Normally we’d be more in the total range of about 230 to 240 employers across both days.”

It’s another pandemic impact because there are certain industries missing from the line-up that usually fill that gap, like hospitality and tourism, retail, and entertainment. Clere says there are plenty of other professions still hiring though.

“We’re finding a lot of your science, technology and engineering professions are still pretty strong,” he said. “It’s a lot of manufacturing. A lot of high-tech. We’ve got a lot of business and finance. Then we’ve got most of our government agencies, state, federal and local, and some of our nonprofits still.”

Still, anyone looking for a job during a pandemic will face challenges, especially since these students may have even more competition than in the past.

“When you’re in an economic recession and a downturn like that we’re experiencing, it’s just a matter of course that a lot of our students and new graduates are competing against professionals who maybe have been downsized or laid off from their job," Clere said. "So, they’re competing against other professionals with years of experience."

Clere says that’s why he thinks taking advantage of a career fair is even more important now. Even if a job isn’t available immediately, networking can help down the line.

While students can join in the day of the event, they’re strongly encouraged to sign up through UK’s Handshake career management website beforehand.

The engineering, computer science and STEM virtual career fair will take place on Tuesday and the business, communications, liberal arts and all majors virtual career fair will be on Wednesday.

Both are from noon to 4:00 p.m.