October 13, 2020
Dr. Yolanda Norman is assistant director, Engineering Career Center College Success Faculty – Exploratory Studies Cullen College of Engineering | University of Houston
On June 30, 2020, I posted on the NACE Community discussion board to ask for advice on hosting virtual resume events through Microsoft TEAMS and the responses came so quickly and unexpectedly. One request email after another came from NACE members wanting to learn more about our University of Houston’s virtual Engineering Resume Café and the desire for a conference call. As the emails grew, so did the discussion board responses, as well as those savvy enough to find me on LinkedIn and Twitter asking for a call.
Well, how can you say no to over 150 people asking to join a call to learn more about our virtual resume café? I didn’t.
I told my team about the interest in our café and we quickly decided to choose a date and time that work best for all of us and record the meeting for those who could not attend. I updated the original discussion post with our efforts to plan the meeting and a later update with the link to attend.
Over 100 NACE members attended the call in July as I walked through the planning and execution of our newly created café and the success we were having with our students and employers. Fast forward to today and we have successfully expanded the café from 1:1 virtual resume reviews to now include events like: group resume reviews, resume workshops, employer resume open hours, and campus resume review partnerships.
One week before our September virtual Engineering Career fair, we successfully hosted over 20 resume events in the café! Twenty events in only five days! There is no way we would have been able to execute that in person before the pandemic with our four-person team. Shout out to the benefits of technology.
If you have not viewed our original recording of our NACE conference call, you'll find it here: UH Virtual Resume Cafe Recording. A few additional tips I want to share since the original call:
- Be very intentional with building out your Microsoft TEAM channels and settings when creating a virtual café. We now have 11 different channels in our café (including the General) and three of those channels are private (staff, employers, student volunteers).
- Provide as much privacy as you can for your employers. We encourage our employer reviewers to contact students privately to begin their 1:1 appointments rather than leave a message in the group chat for everyone to see.
- Get student input. I now have a Resume Café student committee that provides vital student feedback on the ease and access of the café space. They helped me to create more concise messaging and content to help students navigate the space professionally.
- Learn to control your channel moderation options. Our café is “open” and “closed” at certain hours and days and we use our moderation options to help students know when they can or cannot post in the channel.
- Announcements are your best friend. One of our channels is only for announcements and students cannot post in this channel. This allows me to make important updates as many times as I need to during the week to keep all TEAM members informed and give them easy access to past announcements too.
- Assessment can be a close second best friend. After every event, we train our employers to encourage students to complete a survey. The surveys have all been positive and the number one comment that the students like about the café is the ability to use the video and share feature in TEAMS to have that individual connection with an employer.
It took some trial and error to get our café to where it is today, but I am so proud of our students and employers interactions with how they are using the space. As I mentioned in my original discussion board post, I am always looking for ways to enhance our virtual career events that we offer our students during this pandemic and if you have any advice or created your own café after hearing about ours, I would be excited to learn more from you. Maybe we need to do a 2nd NACE call?
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter and stay safe out there!