Networking in a Pandemic World: With a Dynamic, Flexible format, MAPP’s 2021 Career and Internship Fair Finds New Benefits to Going Virtual

By Maggie Haslam / Feb 5, 2021 / Updated Feb 15, 2021

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Balloons in the Great Space with "Virtual" superimposed.

Each February, there’s a contagious energy that fills every inch of MAPP’s vast Great Space, when students, alumni and the best in the built environment biz converge for MAPP’s annual Career and Internship Fair.

But in 2021, a different kind of contagion has bumped the Career and Internship Fair to a virtual format. At a time when people can’t gather and many firms are faced with tightened hiring budgets, some employers are wondering, why participate?

“Even if you’re not in a position to hire, participating provides so much support to the future of the practice,” said Samantha Klein, HR coordinator at GTM Architects. “It is critical for students to get that networking practice, where they can get comfortable with the rhetoric and articulating their ideas. From our perspective, it’s an opportunity to talk to the next generation of architects; to get a sense of their interests and affinities, but also to show what we do: what’s on the boards for us, and our successes and challenges, particularly in this new normal. Sharing those stories has been such a big part of the face-to-face each year at the career fair and it’s no different in a virtual setting.”

As it turns out, when the clamor, handshakes and stacks of resumes recede, a new space for deeper conversations and connection emerges. This year’s fair offers the opportunity for employers to meet students without distraction in a flexible format, and participate from anywhere in the world with a shorter time commitment and discounted rate—just $75.

With no cap on the number of participating representatives per employer, they can split their time between one-on-one meetups, group chats and general Q-and-As or information sessions. Through UMD’s online career platform, they can post open hiring positions and access lists of participating students, including resumes and contact information, with one click. Employers can even send out pre-fair emails to participating students.

Regardless of an employer’s hiring position, Career Services Director Kristen Tepper is hoping firms take advantage of the flexible virtual format this year, primarily because it’s a chance for them to connect with MAPP’s talented future professionals in architecture, planning, preservation and real estate development. In addition to career prospects, many students attend the career fair each year to see their future writ large and discover the many possible directions they can take as professionals.

“A lot of firms are unsure what the summer is going to look like, whether they’ll be offering internships or hiring,” says Kristen Tepper. “We are hoping that the uncertainty won’t keep people from participating. Regardless of the landscape of 2021, this is a great way for employers to keep connected to the school, meet some truly outstanding students, and share the breadth of their work and expertise.”

Sign up for MAPP’s Career and Internship Fair today! Get more details and register here.

Questions? Contact Kristen Tepper, ktepper@umd.edu.