As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact daily life, UCF College of Business students are taking advantage of the opportunity to engage with employers and student organizations from thousands of miles away. For international students such as Maria Pacheco, the pandemic opened the door to building virtual connections with peers and professionals who would have been inaccessible during a normal semester.

“Even being across the world in Ecuador, attending a virtual networking event was a great chance to learn something new,” Pacheco says. “After learning about all these virtual events, I found networking simple and advantageous. In the business world, it is extremely important to build connections and I was able to do just that.”

What started as a networking obstacle has become a new means to connect with students, employers and campus partners all over the world.

While career fairs and in-person interviews are no longer an option, faculty and staff are utilizing online alternatives that provide more interaction than a typical Zoom call. This semester, the College of Business launched a series of virtual networking events powered by Career Fair Plus, an online platform for job fairs, events and employer interviews. Similar to an in-person career fair, students can visit multiple “booths” by dropping in and out of virtual meeting rooms hosted by employers and student organizations.

On Sept. 3, the college’s Professional Selling Program hosted a “reverse job fair” where nearly 50 employees connected with 40 sales students. This interactive platform also hosted hundreds of students for a “Virtual RSO Speed Networking” event. Business students visited virtual booths hosted by 31 registered student organizations, campus partners, employers and sponsors. Tiffany Hughes, chief of operations for the college,  says engagement continues to be a central part of the student experience.

“During a normal semester, the College of Business usually hosts more than 50 events involving students, alumni and friends of the college,” Hughes says. “We are thrilled to be able to continue this culture of engagement in an online setting thanks to the strong relationships we have with our corporate partners and student organizations.”

What started as a networking obstacle has become a new means to connect with students, employers and campus partners all over the world. Later this semester, the college will hold the “Fall 2020 Virtual Invitational: An Online Event for Internships, Externships and Jobs.” Using Career Fair Plus, corporate partners will host virtual booths to promote career opportunities to hundreds more students in a variety of fields, including accounting, economics, finance, integrated business, management, marketing, real estate and sports business.

“We are incredibly thankful for the partnerships we have in our Central Florida business community and UCF student organizations. We couldn’t provide these resources and opportunities to our students without their unwavering support,” Hughes says.