On Saturday, January 25, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) hosted the Career Fair Bootcamp. Designed to prepare students for the IU Diversity Career and Internship Fair on January 27, the bootcamp provided students with tools and tips on what to expect from the fair, how to research the employers attending, and how to interact with potential employers. Held in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and attended by nearly 300 students, the bootcamp surpassed the predicted number of roughly 100-150 students resulting in two sessions offered.
“It was a significant increase from our last bootcamp,” Patrick Smith, executive director of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development, said. “We had roughly 40 students attend last semester’s bootcamp, which we considered a success, but we had no idea that the event would attract so many more students.”
Despite splitting the program in two, the students received the same information in both sessions. “Nothing was lost,” Smith said. “Some students even stayed behind after the second session to ask our facilitator questions.”
“The Career Fair Bootcamp prepares students for the career fair by teaching them how to professionally dress, write a resume, interview with employers, and research the companies and organizations attending the fair.” Pat Donahue, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education, executive director for career development, and facilitator for the bootcamp, said. “I was incredibly impressed by the number of students who attended the bootcamp and the Diversity Career and Internship Fair, and I am very proud of the collaboration between OVPDEMA and the IU Career Services Council. Great career opportunities happen for students when we work together.”
Smith believes that the increase in attendance was due to the collaborative effort between OVPDEMA leadership, its marketing and communications team, and support from the academic scholarship programs such as 21st Century and Groups.
“This was what I call a total community effort in terms of how we mobilized and galvanized our students around the career-readiness event,” Smith said. “The students came out, and they were appreciative. They learned quite a bit, and I hope that they are fruitful in gaining an interview and securing a position.”
The sudden influx of students willing to attend the bootcamp was a signifier for the record-breaking attendance at the Diversity Career and Internship Fair. Students transformed the IMU Alumni Hall as they moved from booth to booth, asking questions about company diversity, internship opportunities, and more. The fair boasted 1,746 attendees eager to connect with the 75 companies and 175 employee recruiters—representing both corporate and not-for-profit sectors—in attendance. Additionally, 227 attendees had professional headshots taken at the event. In response to all the attendees, Smith remarked: “The IMU was filled to the brim.”
“It was a monumental increase from last year,” Smith said. “Last year was the first time we hosted a career fair like this, and we needed to see how we could improve upon that particular event. It attracted roughly 250 students and 20 to 25 employers, and that was very successful. We learned that if we tweaked it a little bit and increased our marketing and outreach to employers and students that we could expand upon this program. This year our goal was to serve 700 students, and we surpassed that.”
Much like the bootcamp, Smith credits the overwhelming success of the career fair with the collaborative efforts both within OVPDEMA and their external partners. Smith highlighted Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president for strategy, planning, and assessment, as instrumental to the fair’s success. He stated that she provided guidance and support throughout the planning process and ensured OVPDEMA provided the necessary resources for this event to succeed.
“To make collaborative efforts successful, one has to be clear of the intended outcome,” Treviño said. “In this case, we wanted to provide a win-win-win scenario for the employers who were looking for students with diverse backgrounds, the collaborative partners who worked to ensure a successful event, and the students who made the productive and active decision to attend the event. They say teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, and I think we accomplished that goal based on the record-setting attendance of students who attended the fair.”
“These are all our students whether we work in career services or OVPDEMA or serve on the employee relations committee,” Smith said. “It is in all of our interests that through effective collaboration, we provide the best service and resources to our students.”
Although Smith and the rest of the OVPDEMA staff have yet to review and assess feedback from the event, they are eager to start. The feedback will help OVPDEMA and its partners ensure that the next IU Diversity Career and Internship Fair is even better than the previous one.