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Enhancing Employer Engagement…virtually!

Enhancing Employer Engagement…virtually!

EACE Blog contribution by Akanksha Aga, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at Johnson & Wales University

How can you bridge the gap between employers and students, in a still recovering economy? Are you making the most of your resources to provide innovative events that involve your top employers? Let’s say you made an excellent connection with an industry executive who is interested in speaking to your students…but lives on the wrong coast! Their hectic schedule and your academic schedule can pose an additional challenge to bringing them on campus. That’s where technology can help you!

There are ways to enhance your employer activity on campus with the right use of technology. Before you click away let me clarify that this isn’t meant to replace career events where employers physically come to your campus. The goal is to creatively augment your existing employer presence with virtual events when distances are great and budgets are limited. Here are three examples from Johnson & Wales University where we accomplished that:

  1. How do you bring the CEO of a Singapore-based company to Rhode Island?

Video conferencing helped us bridge 9,000 miles and a 13-hour time difference this February. We held a live video conference with a JWU alumnus who is leading an Asian resort company. He was in Singapore and the students in our auditorium in Rhode Island. As they are developing more hotels and resorts in Asia they have a growing need for talent. This was an excellent opportunity for our Asian student population to hear directly from the CEO. Over 80 students attended and were motivated to not only see a JWU success story but also learn first-hand from a prominent industry leader about careers within his company. We knew it had been successful as it led to 17 skype interviews.

  1. Live broadcast of an executive panel discussion to regional campuses.

After getting commitment from three C-suite alumni to join us for an on-campus panel discussion, we decided to make the most of their time by broadcasting it live to our regional campuses. The event was held in Rhode Island with a simultaneous feed to Charlotte, NC, Denver, CO and North Miami, Florida. This helped us reach a larger audience of students, staff and faculty that would not have had the opportunity to hear from three successful leaders.

  1. Virtual classroom presentations

If you currently engage employers in classroom presentations then this could be an easy next step for you. Simple technology like iMeet or Webex can help you increase employer presentations especially on topics that are most relevant to experiential education and career services such as interviewing, networking, resume tips etc. We’ve had employers based in Orlando, Florida, and Washington D.C. share interviewing do’s and don’ts within our career management class.

If this has piqued your interest and you are considering using technology for virtual events, here are some quick tips to help you prepare:

  • Take advantage of free trials to test available software. However, if you plan on using it regularly it would be worth investing in subscription.
  • Ensure you partner with your IT office ahead of time and understand whether your school’s firewalls could have an impact on your video conference. They might be able to offer helpful advice on free online tools.
  • Plan a quick trial run to confirm the audio and video are clear at both ends. This will also make you aware of any delays and think through additional logistics.
  • Most laptops have built in cameras and speakers however based on your audience and event needs consider working with your IT/A/V staff to plan for additional equipment if needed.

Most companies that have a national reach are using technology for internal meetings as well as client presentations. As students start their careers they most likely will be expected to utilize technology in similar ways to meet their business goals. A great way to integrate virtual presentations, within your campus plans, is by identifying employers that are already used to video conferences and comfortable with technology. With some planning and a little practice technology could make a huge impact in increasing your employer and student engagement.

Akanksha Aga

Akanksha Aga

Akanksha Aga is the Assistant Director of Employer Relations at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI. She is responsible for developing mutually beneficial recruiting relationships with industry partners for the purpose of internships and hiring. She is the primary relationship manager for employers such as Marriott International, Nordstrom, Wegmans, Target, Amica and more.

Akanksha started her career with the Taj Group of Hotels, a five-star hotel chain, in India. She acquired her MBA in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University in 2002. Akanksha was the student commencement speaker for her graduating class. She is actively involved with the Women’s Foodservice Forum. Akanksha is married to fellow JWU alumnus Samir Dhamija. They have a toddler and reside in North Providence, RI.


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