Going Virtual: On A Different Kind of Job Fair

having attended grad school, supposedly, has many perks. One of these, of course, is that one is able to establish connections and learn of events that will help to launch his or her desired career. For the past couple of weeks, I had been preparing for such an occurrence: the Bender Virtual Job Fair for persons with disabilities, that I learned about via my Queens University Career Counselor. They put this fair on through a platform called CareerEco, which seems to do this on a regular basis for organizations and entities like universities that wish to present opportunities to a wide variety of students all online.

One thing I did like about this Career Eco platform is that they clearly attempt to make sure that everyone will be able to use their website and its chatrooms easily, through tutorials on screen-reader usage and recommended technologies. It is heavily suggested that Windows with Firefox and NVDA be utilized when participating in the chats, as one is most able to hear the incoming sounds as recruiters and others send them public or private messages. But being the maverick that I am, I kind of figured I could probably still make it work with my Mac, which I’ve now owned for a little over a year and am making fairly decent progress on I should add.

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I know, I will likely install Windows 10 on here someday soon, because yes there are some things that the Mac definitely does not do as well. In this case though, I would say that it did ok.

First, I put in a nearly full day at the day job, which I of course will retain while considering other options. The challenge with this decision though is that by the time I launched the site, at around 3:15, many of the recruiters had indeed already taken off. Some had indicated that they would be around later in the day, but as I figured they began shutting down around 12 PM. The fair went from 9 AM till 6 PM after all, and there were probably only so many attendees. Plus, well you’d naturally need to take a break from the screen for a while.

That being so, I still managed a couple of brief conversations. I spoke with someone at the Federal Aviation Administration, because we all know I”m a travel junkie and would love to find a position within this federal agency. I also chatted with a Walgreens rep who noted that most of the positions for which they were specifically hiring were somewhere in Illinois, but that I could try and get on at any store. Walgreens does have a good track record of hiring people with disabilities, so we shall see.

I wanted to see about talking to Apple, but their person had closed up shop by the time I arrived. I’m not certain how much of a retail person I could be, and the Apple stores are fairly loud, but it did look like an interesting path to explore. It’s ok though, just because the fair is over the potential connections do not have to be.

Finally, I spoke with and looked up information on the organization itself: Bender Consulting. They have an interesting story: founded by a woman with disabilities who seems passionate about helping more of us achieve competitive, no pity employment. I am definitely going to continue looking into that and gaining a fuller understanding of what exactly they do.

I would say that on the whole, the online job fair was a unique and good experience. A couple of big advantages it has over in-person fairs is that one, that one being me, is able to hear everything that is said with ease, even as the crowd ebbs and surges, depositing questions and seeking answers. The other, as touted by the ad itself, is that everyone is able to present on a more level playing field, without regard to dress, obvious disability status, and/or lacking of linguistic and other bodily cues that recruiters might consider. Of course, if one were invited into an in-person interview, he or she would then need to present well in these areas, but I suppose it at least allows the conversation to be started.

So with that opening shot, my career preparations are now fully underway. I am getting a number of irons in the fire at the same time, and hopefully something will take shortly. Every little experience helps in firming me up for that to occur.

Have you gone to a job fair recently? If so, what kind of connections came out of it? I did become curious about who put on the first such event, and the answer to this question is hard to find. Do you know?

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