I am not certain if a number of our universities hold career fairs anymore. I am dead sure that if a census was taken on how many of these institutions of higher learning do, it would basically amount to only a few. Disappointing isn’t it?
College career fairs are global standard practices of every institution worth its salt, with immense benefits to everyone involved: the firms who are forever looking for a talent pool to headhunt people from, the students, and the institutions.
What makes college career fairs so valuable?
Career fairs offer firms and students the opportunity to meet and interact with each other before the interview process itself this meeting naturally psyches the student into adequately preparing for the position the recruiting firm is offering. One then will agree that this serves as an advantage for the student at such a fair compared with a student who has no such opportunity. Mistakes made at these interactions are downplayed by the recruiting firms and internalised by the student who is soon to graduate and get into the labour market. He or she has the opportunity to explore a number of career opportunities, meet prospective employers as well as observe professional attitudes that may come handy in a job interview session not only in the present but also in the near future in the case of wanting a change of job.
For employers, a career fair helps headhunters to, identify on the spot potential employees, this makes such fairs quite efficient and cost effective. Imagine having to meet and subsequently employ a number of these graduates at the fairs without spending those millions on advertising such vacancies. Also, most firms that participate in career fairs enhance the appeal for their brands. Aside attracting students who may have never heard of your firm to want to work with you, the firm also benefits from the public relation and marketing activities that come with such participation. Such brand awareness could help go beyond just poaching egg heads to filling entry levels at your firm but also bringing in clients who may be interested in what you do.
For our institutions of higher learning, hosting a career fair brings a number of benefits to your campus. First of all, it gives visage to the type of academic programmes a school offers helping to reinforce the institution’s visibility and also ranking. Your campus benefits from increased visibility (a number of recruiters could recommend others to try out your programmes), high employment rates, and better rankings. Besides this, a successful career fair will attract other firms too for subsequent events.
Thus, the second Pan Atlantic University Career Fair with the theme ‘Employability and Millenials; Building a Talent Pipeline’, is a shining example of what the academic institutions, be they private or government-owned, ought to be doing in this regard.
The fair, which took place on February 20, 2019, is the second in a row and featured a number of blue chip companies cutting across various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
A highpoint of the event was the keynote address delivered by Mr Ifeanyi Amah, founder and CEO of Waje Smart Solutions Limited. Another was the panel session, which featured a number of professionals in the persons of Mrs Ejemen Okojie of ChapellhillDenham, Mr Tonye Boham of Airtel Nigeria and Mr Samuel Akilotan of Sterling Bank as panelists while Dr Olusola Oni, Head of Department of the Business Administration Department, served as the moderator.
The session harped on the challenges, expectations and experiences of firms hiring millennials, as well as the benefits of doing such.
Mrs Nkiru Ukachukwu, the career and internship manager, stated that the fair did feature 76 undergraduate students and 45 full-time postgraduate students participating as a prelude to their graduation.
Nkiru, said the fair serves as a platform for companies “to access a pool of qualified traditional and non-traditional candidates without having to advertise” while it would “give students an opportunity to learn more about potential employers and the opportunities available”. It would also allow companies to “save time and money by enabling recruiters to zero in on exceptional candidates quickly rather than using the scatter-shot approach of general advertising”.
Finally, it is my take that the Ministry for Education and the Nigerian Universities Commission demand that our universities begin to hold career fairs (mostly our state-owned universities, which have a huge number of millennials). This way, we can achieve the win-win-win (company, student and institution) situation as seen in the Pan Atlantic University example.