While the COVID-19 pandemic caused many career services offices to make adjustments to the ways they operate, these offices did not make substantial changes to their employer relations strategy, according to final results of NACE’s August 2021 quick poll on internships and fall 2021 recruiting.
Just one-third of respondents to the quick poll made “a lot” or “a great deal” of changes to this strategy when compared to their pre-pandemic approach to employer relations. Those that did make changes were most likely to increase their virtual recruiting options, increase outreach to local and regional employers, and increase the frequency of their outreach to employers.
One area of significant—and ongoing—change is to career fairs. Sixty-four percent of respondents report that they are inviting employers to campus this fall. Still, just 11% are holding exclusively in-person career fairs (compared to 33% that are holding career fairs that are exclusively virtual), which was by far the most common format prior to the pandemic. This year, career centers will most commonly offer both in-person and virtual career fairs (45%).
These career fairs, however, will not frequently overlap as 75% of responding career centers will hold their in-person and virtual career fairs at different times. Furthermore, these shifts typically will not result in changes to the fees career centers charge: 77% will keep the pricing the same for in-person career fairs and 75% will do the same for those held virtually.
Compared to pre-pandemic, career centers also made changes in strategy for outreach to students from historically marginalized groups. Again, the expansion of the virtual services they offer to these students was the biggest modification, with nearly two-thirds of respondents making this change. Nearly half reported connecting with student groups for these populations.
NACE polled employers and career services professionals on their plans for fall 2021 in light of the pandemic and greater opportunity to return to in-person interactions. The polls address plans for serving, engaging with, and recruiting college students for jobs and internships, but also capture what happened with employer internship programs held in summer 2021. The polls ran from July 27 through August 20, 2021; final results are available on NACEWeb.