In July, we published the results of a poll that showed that while two thirds of students have attended a career fair at some point, only one third found the experience valuable enough to want to go again in the future.
Another 34% have never attended a career fair on campus.
Commenters, both students and employers alike, seemed to favour information sessions over career fairs, but our most recent poll results show that the majority (42%) of students plan to attend zero info sessions over the next year.
Somewhat surprisingly, more than one third of respondents did not know what an info session is: 34% selected, “What’s an info session?”
Only 19% of students said they plan to attend 1 to 10 info sessions, and 5% plan to attend more than 10.
Although these results do not provide further insight into why students do or do not attend info sessions, we have certainly heard anecdotes from students and recent grads across Canada that the majority of info sessions on campus are targeted toward the few groups of students which are already the most “recruited” – business, engineering, healthcare, etc. – and completely overlook the rest, particularly those with arts degrees.
Students: Why do you, or do you not, attend info sessions on your campus?
Employers: Does it surprise you that so many students don’t attend or don’t even know what info sessions are? Are you interested in reaching the three quarters of students who don’t plan to attend info sessions over the next year? Is an info session the best way to brand yourself to students?
August 4, 2011 at 9:51 am
This is an interesting study. Through this study I’d be really interested in diving further into the reasons “why”. But, I know from my own personal experience that career fairs and employer information sessions are really targeted at what they would consider their targeted talent pool. This pool is typically the top 5-10% of the student population, which is identified by G.P.A. and a false perception of degree = employability. What I mean by this is the perception that Arts students simply are not employable by employers looking to recruit post secondary students, where Business students are employable. This common perception automatically assumes that the degree you possess makes you a good fit. We all know that this mindset is dangerous and completely leaves out a huge population that likely are “better fits” than the top 5-10% of students via G.P.A.
Further, employers for the most part are using archaic talent attraction methods (i.e. career fairs and information sessions) that completely miss the boat in terms of tapping into the interests of current students. Case in point — why the heck would I want to sit in an auditorium amongst my peers and listen to a bunch of formal suit laden company reps blurt out various messages for an hour? First of all, the last thing a student needs is to be filled with meaningless information in a lecture format where you’re competing to get noticed and establish some kind of rapport. There is very little engagement in these on-campus initiatives, so to make a long story short, I am not surprised by the results of this study.
August 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm
I work with a lot of employers on campus here at Dalhousie and I’ve found that our most successful information sessions are ones that happen later in the fall for companies that are, in general, more engaged with our campus on other levels.
Students have to know who you are before you get to campus or they aren’t going to attend your session. Info sessions are not for creating awareness about your opportunities, they are for engaging a targeted group of people who are specifically interested in what you have to offer. If a good candidate for your opportunity isn’t coming to your information session in their senior year then you didn’t do enough to engage them the first 3 years they were in school.
I like using a movie theater analogy as it explains my point pretty clearly. When was the last time you went to the movie theater without already having an idea of what you wanted to see? Chances are you saw a preview months before, or a friend told you what was good, or you read a review in a newspaper. The fact is that you never choose to go to a movie that you don’t know anything about. So if the goal of your session is to provide information to people that aren’t already engaged in your brand or organization then you’re missing that all important “carrot”. Look at your complete campus master plan and think about all of the effort you’ve made on that campus in the past 11 months leading up to September. Did you do anything on campus to engage your target group leading up until the September rush?
August 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm
Very interesting article. I think it is important for employers to understand that they can’t put all their eggs 🙂 in one basket. It is important to engage students year round at many different events rather than rely only on a career fair or info session.
For students in Arts related programs many employers are very interested in hiring them, but they often are unaware of the typical campus recruitment process and timelines and as such miss out. I believe that they need to take ownership of their career search and proactively engage with employers…may take more effort but I believe the results will speak for themselves.
As an FYI, we successfully hire students from a variety of programs every year (including arts) and will be conducting info sessions at many universities across the country this September. We proactively try to get the message out regarding those dates early (we have already tweeted save the date messages) and will continue to do so up until the day we hit each individual campus.