Every year, the Actuarial Science Club (ASC) hosts one of our largest events called Meet the Firms. Students ranging from freshmen to graduates dressed in professional attire line up at each company’s station with a resume in one hand and a handshake in the other. The sound of well-practiced elevator pitches and engaged conversations echo throughout the large ballroom, as each brief conversation ends with another handshake and a business card. Between meetings, individuals would take breaks alongside a long table garnished with hors d’oeuvres and desserts, as well as chat with others on their backgrounds and experiences.
As always, this career fair serves as the perfect networking opportunity for employers to connect with potential applicants, as well as for students to get their names out there and continue building lasting relationships with recruiters. While certain unforeseen circumstances would make this tradition physically impossible to carry out this semester, ASC surpassed this barrier and hosted the first ever virtual Meet the Firms!
With around 150 students and 21 companies in attendance, this career fair was hosted over the online platform called Career Fair Plus, which can be accessed via a desktop or mobile app. Not only did ASC organize this event so that it adhered to the university’s COVID-19 safety protocol, but we also implemented unique features that enhanced the career fair experience as a whole for each participant. Each student could sign up for 10-minute appointments with the companies of their choice. While signing up for a time slot, there would be a description of each recruiter’s position and their LinkedIn profile. This way, students could sign up with recruiters that best aligned with their personal goals. For example, for a company with both property and casualty and life practices, the student could register specifically with the recruiter from their desired practice. On the other hand, recruiters also heavily benefited from this experience, by having access to each individual’s resume prior to their meeting through Career Fair Plus. In addition, they were able to speak with more students given the fixed time limit and reservation process.
The current Meet the Firms Chair for ASC is Drew Taylor, who is a junior majoring in actuarial science. He spearheaded this project by identifying a platform that was convenient for students and recruiters alike.
“Meet the Firms was a great success this year due to the circumstances. Due to some companies’ different recruiting strategies, many of our annual attendees were not able to participate. That being said, Meet the Firms hosted 21 employers with 6 of them being new companies. This year approximately 150 students participated while hosting around 800 appointments between students and recruiters. The organization of Meet the Firms this year was very different from years passed, as this was our first experience in conducting a career fair virtually. With careful research and planning, Meet the Firms was able to be a great success this year!” — DREW TAYLOR
After the event, a survey was sent out to gain an insight on how everyone experienced the event. Based on the feedback received from the students, they were overwhelmingly pleased with how smooth everything had gone and satisfied with their own performance. In fact, there was an even split for employers and students alike on whether they preferred Meet the Firms to be online or face-to-face! Similarly, the majority of recruiters thoroughly enjoyed this experience as well with one having summarized it as “The best career fair I have attended this year and I have been to 7.” Additionally, one recruiter suggested keeping it online to allow for farther companies to recruit from our university.
In addition to MTF, throughout the Fall semester, ASC invited companies to do virtual company presentations and hosted various workshops to aid the students toward their recruiting efforts. We had 19 company presentations conducted through Zoom or the software of the representative’s choice. After each presentation, the club provided an opportunity for students to network with presenters by splitting them into breakout rooms. Along with company presentations, ASC organized resume, elevator pitch, and interview workshops for the students. These workshops were led by company representatives from State Farm, CNA, and Deloitte. Most of the representatives were alumni of ASC who shared their insight on their experience with recruiting and gave advice on how to stand out to companies during the current circumstances. Last but not least, there was a Mock Meet the Firms workshop so that students could familiarize themselves with the website and practice going through the procedures of how Meet the Firms will operate. With the number of resources and opportunities that were made accessible, ASC was confident that students were well equipped to gain their desired internship or job.
Overall, ASC made the most of this virtual experience through the use of an online career fair resource, resulting in an overall success. In fact, this calls to question how the future of Meet the Firms will look. Once the university can safely allow for large gatherings, will we keep Meet the Firms in person as we traditionally have, stick with a virtual career fair platform, or perhaps try out a hybrid setting? Regardless, the Actuarial Science Club of Illinois will continue to provide this unique opportunity in order to bring together our students and the professional world.