Handshake’s case study reveals that N.C. A&T’s career fair as largest

N.C. A&T hosts largest virtual fall career fair via Handshake


Jamille Whitlow, TheYard Editor

Handshake recognized N.C. A&T for hosting the largest virtual fall career fair with over 350 employers and over 10,000 connections.   

Cynthia Downing, Executive director of Career Services and experiential learning has a team of career professionals that are responsible for coordinating each career fair. In preparation of the spring career fair held on Feb. 24, from 12 – 4 p.m.,  sponsors and representatives host career-building workshops to improve students’ resumes and professional profiles. Downing explains the value of having sponsors host workshops. 

“ We have over 40 different employers and well over sixty representatives that are helping in resume critiques and LinkedIn critiques,” said Downing. “ We really want students to take advantage of that [workshops],  they are getting first-hand knowledge of what employers are seeking.”   

The Office of Career services does not receive funding from the state, therefore most of their revenue is from the career fair and the sponsors that financially support OCS with software such as Handshake, InterviewStream and MyPlan

Handshake is a platform used to find careers, internships, and host workshops/ career fairs. Downing emphasizes how Handshake has Fortune 500 companies on their site and created more opportunities for people in College of Arts,Humanities, and Social Sciences. If employers are not at the fair, they are still recruiting students.  

“In one month, when we [OCS] ran a report, there were 800 employers looking for journalism students,” said Downing. “We are able to reach out to more employers and they are starting to network and engage in workshops, some are coming to our fair.”

Some employers are using InterviewStream  to perform mock interviews. Students can practice answering interview questions and receive feedback on their response.

 Network Thursdays work similarly with InterviewStream but allows sponsors, employers, and students already in a career field to support other students who are looking for career opportunities. Students can hear from employed students about their work and experience instead of receiving a typed response from InterviewStream. Downing explains how Network Thursday creates a relaxed setting for students. 

“We know that students learn from other students and recent alumni. By combining them [students and alumni], it is a great opportunity for students to gain valuable information in a relaxed setting,” said Downing. 

Students can continue to network and gain information using MyPlan. MyPlan has four assessments that help students find interests within their majors. N.C.A&T can use this software to network with other universities, peers and gain information about Graduate/Professional school.  

As students continue to use software to prepare for the career fair, once students register for the fair, Handshake and OCS can track the amount of students during the event and their engagement. After the fall career fair, OCS made a decision to have 275 employers since many employers had empty slots in their schedule from the previous career fair. OCS’ spring career fair is coordinated by Pamela Basheer, it will be  N.C. A&T’s largest spring career fair event to date in comparison to past fairs that were held in-person.   

Downing expressed how N.C.A&T’s career fairs would not be successful without the help of their sponsors. 

“ When we look at the entire operations of Career Services, without the financial support of those sponsors, it [career fair] would not be able to happen,” said Downing. “That is why they [sponsors] are so crucial, not only to the fair but the office as a whole.” 

For more information about virtual tips, OCS created a site on what students should do before, during, and after the fair. If students are interested in the Education field , there will be a career fair on Mar. 9 for those specific students. To know about more programs similar to Networking Thursdays, follow @ncatocs on Twitter and Instagram.