Employers and UVA alumni are still eager to connect with UVA students! Below you’ll find helpful links and advice to get started.
The core foundations of networking and informational interviews remain the same whether you’re speaking in person or over a virtual platform. However, with the influx of virtual connection during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to understand strategies of how to take advantage of networking in a virtual environment. The UVA Career Center hosts several career fairs each year and over 100+ events and workshops to help students connect with employers and UVA alumni. How do you start? "First, ask yourself who you want/need to meet. These are your strategic targets. They may work in companies you are interested in or hold a position like the one you are interested in." - Hannah Morgan, Job Search Strategist.
Learn the Basics of Virtual Platforms
Networking in a virtual environment has many benefits, including the opportunity to connect with professionals and alums in a variety of locations. To ensure success in these endeavors, there are a few very practical concerns to consider ahead of time. Due to the Covid-19 majority of workers' are no longer working in a traditional office, or work environment. As such, actively communicating the time zones of your respective availability will be an important factor in successfully scheduling virtual meetings, appointments, and virtual informational interviews.
Given that there is now an expectation from alumni and employers that networking and recruitment will occur virtually, you may have questions about the "how" of connecting with alumni or employers in a virtual setting.
Before you start networking, you will want to be sure to take inventory of your technological capabilities. It is also important that you practice utilizing video conferencing platforms. This will be essential to your success when networking and participating in recruitment processes with employers. More specifically, consider your internet access, your phone reception, and your access to privacy when selecting a medium for scheduling appointments. There may be times when suggesting a phone call is more appropriate than a video call, and vice versa. Overall, the idea is to be intentional about thinking through ways you can establish an environment for successful virtual interactions.
Some virtual platforms that you might be expected to use include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Adobe Connect, or by telephone. Ready to get started? View our Virtual Networking Email Templates to learn how to reach out to employers and alumni today!
3 Great Ways to Start Networking Virtually
Now more than ever there are so many ways for UVA students to network with employers and UVA alumni. Below are just some of the ways UVA students can start to build their network.
1. Attend a Virtual UVA Career Center Event
For the foreseeable future that the UVA Career Center will offer all future recruitment and career-related events virtually. Our office will utilize both Handshake and Zoom for all virtual events. Students will be able to easily register for any upcoming events using Handshake.
According to Handshake’s Blog, “Employers like IBM and Under Armour often host virtual events on Handshake to connect with students from across the country. Attending these events is a unique way to meet employees at the companies you want to work for. Virtual events give you an opportunity to learn more about a company before applying for a job.”
Each Handshake event will include a Zoom link to participate (see example in the image below).
How to Prepare for a UVA Career Center Event
In addition to research that you would typically do to prepare for a career fair, like researching companies and preparing your elevator pitch, you will want to allocate time to researching the structure of the event. Be aware that these events will incorporate a combination of group meetings (professional speaking to 10+ students) and one-on-one sessions (professional with one student for 10 minutes). Some events may be “Conference Style” where the programming will be held over the course of several days and some events will require advance sign up. In order to minimize confusion, please refer to the “Events” and “Fairs” Section on Handshake as we plan to add very detailed instructions to each event and/or fair.
Follow-up & Build Your Network
During the virtual events, you may hear from a professional, recruiter, or alumni that you would like to engage in further conversation. This is natural and we absolutely suggest you follow-up with this person! If this occurs for you and you aren’t sure what to say, use the template below to reach out.
I hope you are doing well and staying safe during this difficult time. I [noticed your posts in X professional group/attended your webinar on Y/chatted with you briefly during Z school’s virtual alumni event]. I found your comments on/story about X to be very [educational/inspiring/etc.].
As I am a [UVA Program/Major] student and exploring future career options, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with you further about your experience. I am very interested to [hear about your role at X company/get your perspective on working in Y role/learn about what it’s like to work at your company/get some advice about how to break into the industry]. Would you be available for a brief call or video chat in the coming weeks? [Share availability and time zone.] I can set up a Zoom meeting or would be happy to use another platform if preferred.
Thank you and hope to speak with you soon!
2. Connect with UVA Alumni on the Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM) Platform
One great way to start networking is to reach out to UVA alumni through the Virginia Alumni Mentoring platform. Think of it as LinkedIn that is just for UVA students and UVA alums! Not only can you chat about career-related questions, but you can also connect on things like your favorite Charlottesville restaurant, or a professor you both admire. Connections like this can really make a difference in a time of economic uncertainty.
"VAM was so helpful in charting what a career in advocacy looks like day-to-day. I was able to connect with alums across the country doing such valuable work in grassroots organization and advocacy. They were able to describe what their organizations do, what their work looks like in particular, and how I can gain valuable skills myself. It was so influential in deciding what type of career in public service I wanted." - Jessica Meyers, Economics and Women and Gender Studies ’21
3. Create & Update Your Handshake Profile
A robust Handshake profile can be as helpful as a detailed resume or LinkedIn page. Employers are searching for students on Handshake based on the information in their profiles, and messaging candidates with event invites or to encourage them to apply for new job opportunities.
See more ideas to maximize your Handshake profile by checking out these resources:
Where is my profile? After logging in to Handshake, access your profile by clicking on your name in the upper right-hand corner of the Handshake home screen, then select “My Profile.”
Handshake lets you know the level of profile completion through a colored progress bar. As you add content to your profile, your profile completion will progress and the color of the bar will change, starting from red. If your Handshake account is set to “Private,” your profile is not visible to employers.
Want to receive tailored emails about industry resources and upcoming programs? Update your Handshake 'Career Interests' profile. When you update that section of your profile, you will receive a weekly newsletter during the academic year featuring jobs, internships, helpful career advice, and upcoming event information.
Discover More Virtual Resources for UVA Students
- Virtual Networking - Email Templates for UVA Students
Candid Career - Candid Career is the premier provider of thousands of informational video interviews featuring industry professionals (including over 40 UVA alumni) through an easy-to-use website. Their site is dedicated to providing the inside scoop on careers as well as advice that will give you an edge in your job search.
Career Insider by Vault - Industry and job guides, internship listings, company reviews, and more! Vault helps you improve your “Career Intelligence”. Get the login details on our Handshake resource card.
PathwayU - PathwayU is a platform with assessments to help you identify education and career pathways that fit you and make the most sense for your unique interests and values.