Fall “Career Week” offered unexpected benefits to students seeking job connections

Career Day logoThe UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s annual Career Day, hosted jointly with the Veterinary Business Management Association, has traditionally been a one-day, in-person event aimed at providing job-related information and networking opportunities for veterinary students and potential employers.

This year, though, due to coronavirus restrictions, Career Day became Career Week — held Sept. 21-26 — consisting of a series of virtual courses, resume reviews, panel discussions and connection opportunities that drew a larger number of participants than ever before.

“Everything was completely moved online this year and was spread out over the course of a week instead of one day,” said Katelyn Jerles, the college’s assistant director of career services. “We had to create an entirely new structure.”

Zoom breakout rooms were used to host document reviews and practice sessions and employers from across the nation participated as volunteers in these sessions with students, Jerles said.

“Instead of the typical lunch and learns, we hosted two evening panels with nationally based participants who would not have been able to participate in person,” she said. “One panel was a recent alumni panel for employers focused on employee engagement and retention and the other was a panel of employers for students focused on standing out during the hiring process.”

When Jerles came to the college in 2016, the event attendees consisted of eight employees and 17 students, with 28 resume reviews and mock interviews conducted.

“This year with the virtual format, we had 120 individual resume reviews and mock interviews over the course of the week with 11 organizations volunteering,” Jerles said, adding that 80 UFCVM students or alumni participated in the topic-specific panel discussions, while an average of about 40 students per day participated in the daily sessions.

Career Week incorporated a national virtual career fair, which Jerles also coordinated, on Saturday, Sept. 21, which featured 202 employing veterinary organizations.

“We had over 850 job seekers attend and of those 80 were UF CVM alumni or students,” Jerles said, adding that she was proud of the students’ taking ownership and engaging with employers during Career Week despite the new and unfamiliar circumstances.

“In addition to being in virtual courses throughout the week, they prioritized their career development and participated in the events offered,” she said. “Many of them found beneficial connections and were able to further their job search process through the week’s connections and engagements. The growing numbers associated with Career Day/Week showcase the importance and the value that students received from participating, and I’m very much looking forward to the event growing in the future.”

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