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Virtual Career Fairs

General Tips

  • Review Handshake's Student Guide to Attending a Virtual Fair.
  • Register for the fair on Handshake. Students must be registered for virtual career fairs in Handshake in order to attend.
  • Complete your Handshake profile. Employers have the ability to set certain qualifications for 1:1 sessions. If your profile is not complete, you may not see all sessions available to you. IMPORTANT: To maximize opportunities, ensure your GPA is visible (uncheck "hide from employers" in your profile) and work authorization status are updated (in settings and privacy).
  • Set your Handshake profile to Community or Employer, which allows you to schedule 1:1 and group sessions.
    • "Community" setting = you can attend both 1:1 and group sessions, and other students and alumni across all Handshake schools can view your profile; and this gives you access to Peer Messaging.
    • "Employer" setting = you can only attend 1:1 sessions, and employers approved at UC Merced can view your profile.
  • In Handshake, review the participating Employer list and REGISTER IN ADVANCE for 1:1 and group sessions (day-of sign ups are possible, but some employer schedules may be full).
  • Prioritize the employers you're most interested in. If your schedule allows, you may find it easier to start with the employers in which you're less interested. This will allow you to hone your approach and to be most confident when you approach the employers you're especially excited about. Be sure to balance this tip with the reality that you may have little time and that many other students may be interested in the same employers.

  • Update your resume(s) in advance. If unable to get a session with an employer, find their jobs and/or internships in Handshake and apply.

  • Review technical requirements in advance to ensure successful attendance

  • Come prepared. Before the fair, you can review the online directory of employers and their job opportunities by logging into Handshake. If you spend a little time getting some background on an organization, then you can ask very focused and specific questions. This impresses representatives because it shows a genuine interest in them.

Notes about sessions:

  • Students can attend one 1:1 session per employer representative in a virtual career fair (there is no limit to group session attendance, and students can attend additional 1:1 sessions with the same employer as long as those sessions are with different representatives)
  • Students can sign up for a 1:1 or group session up to +1 minute before the session start time
  • Students who have already signed up for 1:1 and group sessions can join those sessions at any time
  • Handshake Group sessions with more than 15 participants currently automatically disable student audio and video to preserve session quality (providing a live presenter/s webinar with live chat experience)
  • Once the scheduled start time of a session has passed, the session cannot be re-started
  • Employers and students can turn video on/off at any time
  • Employers can end sessions at any time
  • Students can leave sessions at any time
  • Employers can mute or remove participants from a session, and once removed they can't rejoin
  • Group and 1:1 sessions will be encrypted via DTLS/SRTP protocol

Day-of Virtual Career Fair Tips

  • Before logging in, double-check your system: Perform a network test to check internet, visual, and audio.


  • Choose a quiet, distraction-free location to be in when you're in the fair so your focus can be wholly on connecting with employers. Think about your background too - you want employers to focus on you (and not your music, roommate, pet, etc)!
  • Dress appropriately. First impressions are important. We recommend business-casual or smart-casual.
  • Allow yourself adequate time. Come as early as possible. You may need to return between classes. Typically, fairs are busiest during the lunch hour. Fairs close promptly at publicized ending times to accommodate employers' travel arrangements.
  • Get your bearings. Log in early, take a few minutes to review your personal virtual career fair dashboard in Handshake and review your fair schedule. If you have schedule openings, peruse the list of employers for available 1:1 and/or group sessions and sign up for additional spots.
  • Show up on time! While you don't need to log in 15 minutes early for a session (like you would when arriving for an in-person interview), definitely enter the 1:1 or group session promptly at the set start time.
  • Visit the Career Center's virtual fair Zoom Room for a quick drop-in session with a career counselor, to ask questions, or to seek help with a technical issue you're not able to resolve. *Each virtual career fair's Zoom Room URL will be published the day of the virtual fair on the fair's landing page in Handshake.*
  • Report any trust or safety issues in the virtual career fair by using the 'Report Usere' feature from your desktop or mobile device, if you feel there is any fraudulent or inappropriate activity occurring. If you need guidance, please stop by the Career Center's Zoom Room during the event.
  • Be flexible. The fair directory provides a brief summary of employers' opportunities and may not have been submitted by the same people who come to the fair. Some positions may no longer be available and other openings may have just emerged. No single employer representative is knowledgeable about all positions available, especially in a large organization. Some reps attending virtual fairs are there to share their experiences working at the organization and may not be involved in the hiring process. If the employer rep at the fair does not know specifically about jobs/internships of interest to you, ask for the name of someone who can help you. 
  • Introduce yourself and be prepared to give your "career pitch." Smile, say "hello," and state your name. Thank the representative for attending a UC Merced virtual career fair. Be ready to talk about your career interests as well as academic and extracurricular experiences to show your skills and strengths.
  • Prepare questions in advance to demonstrate your strong interest in the company, industry, or role.
  • Take notes when you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers. The representative at the fair may not be able to answer all of your questions or know specifics about your job interests. Take note of the names, telephone numbers, etc. of other staff in the organization whom you can contact later. Note specific employer information sessions, interviewing timelines, and projected hiring dates that will affect you. You will not be able to take advantage of this information if you don't record it.
  • Ask the representative for their contact information, and then promptly send a thank-you note. Having the contact information of the representative you have just spoken with serves three purposes. First, you have a direct contact with the organization, including the proper spelling of the representative's name, direct telephone line, etc. Second, a brief thank-you note acknowledges the help they gave you and the time they took to connect with our campus. Third, sending thank-you notes is a good professional habit.
  • Be courteous! In addition to representing yourself, you also represent your college and the University. All of the organizations at the fair are there because of their interest in hiring UC Merced students. Some representatives are UC Merced alumni. Demonstrate sensitivity to other students in Group Sessions by keeping your questions brief, sharing space, and offering to continue your conversation at a later time. Enjoy the virtual fair and your interaction with the employers. Let your positive attitude shine!

Content Courtesy of the UC Berkeley Career Center