Campus recruitment has taken a sharp turn during the pandemic. Tuesday the 26th of January saw UCD’s Virtual Internship Fair take place online, a far removal from the traditional recruitment fairs run out of O’Reilly Hall. In years gone by UCD students would flock in and out, chatting with recruiters in the hope of a job, internship, or in the case of some, free pens and other freebies.

While there is absolutely no substitute for these face-to-face interactions, these fairs can broadly be considered a success. Employers are clearly listed, most with corresponding jobs and relevant information, with any number of employees ready to chat with prospective candidates.

Those students daring to start the conversation with employers can book time slots with employers for a video call or simply use the messaging board provided. Either aware of nervous students or simply anxious to recruit, some employers drop messages to candidates who have viewed the company page, and others even request video calls.

Tuesday’s fair contained the usual suspects regarding recruiters – Big 4 accountants, a smattering of smaller finance shops, as well as the odd law firm or engineering company. There was only a fraction of the companies at this fair in compared to the various graduate fairs before Christmas, with really only the larger companies surviving. Whether this is due to a low appetite for interns or virtual working challenges is to be seen.

Individual companies have also been hosting their own recruiting events. Previously, a number of companies invited students into their offices for networking events, showing off their open-plan offices, and giving out even more free pens. These may be a thing of the past, given companies can now hold these events on a larger scale, reaching a bigger audience and do not have to pay costs of hosting (notably Davy’s annual steak dinner for Economics and Finance students).

It would be a mistake for the organisers of recruitments fairs, or recruiters themselves to keep things in their online format if the pandemic subsides. While working from home will rightly be the new normal forevermore, recruitment from home should not be. It is impossible not to feel awkward attending these fairs – doing it through a screen only heightens this.

Credit where credit is due, recruitment has been run quite smoothly by many organisations, but we should all hope that these are not kept.

Conor Bergin – Business Correspondent