Giving Students an Advantage with a Career Fair App

Benefits of a career fair app

A new career fair app is making connecting students and employers easier than ever

ECS Staff

The university’s ECS Staff

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is home to some 9,000 engineering students, and Engineering Career Services is there to help each one of them on their career paths. The office takes on the responsibility of advising and holding workshops and events geared towards helping students prepare for the workforce.

When Keely Ashman became the office’s Recruiting Assistant two years ago, it was her goal to modernize existing processes in order to provide a better experience for the recruiters and students they serve. One area she knew that the university could improve was how information was shared at their biannual career fairs.

There's got to be a way other than printing a booklet.

A new way of working

Historically, students were given a booklet the day of the fair that listed the companies in attendance, what majors they were hiring, what work authorizations they require, their websites, the fair’s sponsors and ways to know more about Engineering Career Services. Keely took a look at all that paper and thought, “There’s got to be a way other than printing out a booklet.”

Keely began to look for a mobile app that could replace the booklet and had the capabilities she needed: an interactive map of the fair’s floor plan, personal to-do lists and schedule builders for attendees, clear agendas that housed details on information sessions and exhibitors, as well as areas to highlight their sponsors.

Going with Guidebook

What resulted from Keely’s search was a fully-branded ECS Career Fair standalone app powered by Guidebook and found in the app stores. It fulfilled each one of Keely’s needs for an app, while strengthening the office’s brand. “We’re the place to come to for careers – we wanted to brand ourselves and have a standalone app that was solely ours in order to really make that statement.”

We wanted to brand ourselves.

All the right features

The ECS Career Fair app houses some powerful features that give students a leg up. With an interactive map, students are provided with a visual layout of the show floor. Recruiter profiles are linked to the booth placements, so students are able to easily determine where their desired companies are located and also see what majors and work authorizations they’re looking for in an instant.

When students are looking through the app to determine where to focus their interactions during the fair, they can add companies to a to-do list with a single tap directly from each employer’s profile. Hitting your desired marks becomes as easy as following the to-do list on your phone.

It was important to Keely that the app also have the capability to highlight the fair’s Career Partners. With Guidebook, ECS was able to create a separate section that did just that.

ECS Career Fair App

Personalized Service

While Keely was searching for an app provider, she was weighing several different companies. Because she was new to the process of building an app, however, Guidebook’s standout feature was its exceptional customer service.

From day one, Keely was given a dedicated Account Executive who specialized in apps for higher education and a Customer Service Associate, Julian, who helped show her the ropes when it came to using Guidebook’s content management system. “I have about a hundred emails where Julian answered all my questions.”

Keely was actually able to build the entire app herself, with guidance from Julian whenever she had a question. Now repurposing her app for each additional career fair will be quick and painless. “Once I did it for the first time, Guidebook’s so easy to use – for the spring it’s going to be a breeze.”

Guidebook's so easy to use.

Printing is in the past

Perhaps most remarkable of all, the ECS Career Fair completely eliminated printing those paper booklets its first time out of the gate. Students were made aware of the app though posters on campus, a series of emails, flyers, and advisors mentioning it directly to students one-on-one. Keely even rented out the screensavers in her building’s computer labs to let students know about the exciting new tool available to them.

Keely estimates that Engineering Career Services is saving thousands of dollars by using the app and not printing booklets. And, in a win for students, the app is available weeks before the career fair – something that was never achievable with the booklet. Students now have the added advantage of knowing the companies in attendance ahead of time and individualizing their approach.

Future Possibilities

Keely is already looking forward to revamping the app for the upcoming spring career fair. Luckily with Guidebook, updating the app is as simple as modifying the information that’s already contained within the content management system. And Engineering Career Services is already grabbing the attention of other career services departments on campus who are asking Keely how they can get an app of their own.

Keely says of the experience, “We had a blast creating our own app – picking our icons and setting it up from scratch. And we really like that it’s just ours.”

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