Overall, she aims to prepare the students for a variety of professional interactions from a career fair to an interview.
But fall 2020 had a new learning curve for both students and Ravenscraft.
“This semester was kind of interesting,” Ravenscraft said. “I’ve been teaching this class for a couple of years, but with all the changes to a virtual environment, I had to take what I had and update it as quickly as possible to get the students prepared and prepare myself.”
Steps for success in an online environment
Many students have become familiar with a Zoom classroom over the past few months. But the way a student would present themselves for a class is different than how they present themselves for a professional meeting or interview.
Some students are setting up online interviews for internships or jobs after graduation.
“This is a situation none of us have found ourselves in, for the students, faculty and even employers,” Ravenscraft said.
She gives her students four primary steps to help students prep for an online interview, career fair or other professional opportunity.
Do the research.
“Research could include setting up your Handshake account, reviewing a company website or job posting or even seeing what you can find out about your interviewer,” Ravenscraft said.
Handshake is the online career management system for students and alumni of Missouri State University. It allows users to highlight academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, experiences and skills.
Students should also find a nice quiet place for their interviews or other virtual events. Private study rooms can be reserved at the library, or the Career Center may have available interview spaces.
Practice makes perfects.
“Often students feel really nervous or anxious,” Ravenscraft said. “The best way to make yourself feel more confident about it is to practice.”
She encourages students to practice an elevator pitch. This includes an introduction with both first and last names, their major and when they’ll graduate. This could also include what a student is looking for in an internship or job.
Ravenscraft also suggest student record themselves to assess their nonverbal communication and what their verbal delivery sounds like.
Students should also practice using their technology. This includes practicing sharing a screen, muting and unmuting, turning video on and off and using a virtual background.
MSU students can customize their Zoom meeting experience with a Missouri State virtual backdrop.
“It’s a false impression when you think people just walk in, sit down and give this wonderful interview,” Ravenscraft said. “But really, those people probably spent a lot of time preparing or have done it a lot.”
Students can do things like prepare or update their resume, attend a Resume Madness event, and set up or update their LinkedIn profiles.
Students also should make sure to dress professionally. Ravenscraft emphasized that even though it is a virtual environment, employer will still take professional appearance into account.
She also says students should have some questions prepared to ask employers.
“Multiple employers have shared with me that if students don’t have any questions for them, it can create the perception that the student isn’t that interested,” she said.
Follow up after the event.
Ravenscraft thinks follow up is a more important now than ever in a virtual environment.
“The follow up is what really makes you stand out,” she said. “It’s how you can get on the radar of the recruiter or employers you’re interested in building relationships with.”
She recommends sending a thank-you email within 24 hours after an interaction with a professional. It is also helpful to mention something specific from the interaction to show you paid attention and value their time.
“One thing that’s good about a virtual environment is that you can take notes,” Ravenscraft said. “It gives students a chance to jot down notes and refer back to them later.”