Georgina Philips, Employer Engagement Manager from the Open University guides us through the OU’s first ever virtual careers fair called ‘OU Online TalentConnect’ which attracted four times more students than they had targeted.
What made you opt to run a virtual careers fair?
Despite being the world-leading provider of higher education through distance learning, the Open University has never before run a virtual careers fair. When set with the task of connecting student and graduate talent with 39 companies based worldwide, an online event seemed the logical solution.
What were your expectations for this event?
Truthfully speaking, this was an unknown. From research, I anticipated that we’d probably get 1000 students register for the event and allowing for a drop-out rate, I thought maybe 600 students would log into the five-day event. I also thought it was going to be time consuming to set up and that some of our employers would be reluctant to participate or would feel it might not be as successful as live events. However, Ivent turned this event around in under three months and helped us at every stage from planning to execution and delivery. What’s more, the feedback from employers has been extremely positive, with 90% rating their experience 7/10 or above and a similar number recommending future OU events to other employers.
What did your event include?
The event looked amazing. We were very impressed with how easy it was to use, both for us and for the employers and the students. We had a networking area, videos and presentations and each company had their own booth and a dedicated resource centre.
Talk us through the event results
The results are incredible; we more than quadrupled our expected number of attendees
What did the employers think?
As I mentioned, the feedback from employers, who included Fujitsu and Teach First, was overwhelmingly positive. The key comments were not only about the time and cost efficiency of exhibiting at a virtual event, but many focused on the increased quality of the engagement with the students compared to a live event. My favourite employer feedback is this:
“The high level of interest compared to “real” careers fairs was very beneficial, as well as the convenience of being online which is where all of our applications are made – the students can go straight from the fair to our careers/applications page with a click of a mouse.”
Do you think a virtual graduate careers event is the way forward then?
Definitely. I simply can’t see how a live event could be as effective, especially when it comes to the volume of attendees and the level of engagement. Ultimately, we more than met our goal in connecting a large volume of genuinely interested students to potential employers. Students and the employers alike said this event surpassed their expectations, both in the way the event was delivered and the outcome.