CAPLA 2021 Job Interview Fair Breaks New Ground, Digitally Speaking
Each spring, the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona hosts its annual Job Interview Fair, when students interview with representatives from design, construction and planning firms, as well as government agencies and nonprofit entities—even if those organizations don’t have available positions.
“The interviewing experience is essential for students,” says Kay Brown, director of alumni relations and community engagement. “Even without a particular job in mind, they learn critical interviewing skills in a face-to-face setting.”
Most years, students meet employers in person, sharing their hand-crafted portfolios, eagerly moving from booth to booth following 25-minute sessions, enjoying a snack and quick conversation during the breaks. Held in the CAPLA Building, employers drive in from Tucson and Phoenix or fly in from across the country. In February 2020, for example, 34 firms representing offices worldwide met with more than 100 CAPLA undergraduate and graduate students over an eight-hour period.
That was before the pandemic.
In 2021, CAPLA’s 11th Annual Job Interview Fair had many of the same goals but given social distancing and the requirement for online-only interaction, worked differently. Instead of an in-person event held on a single day, the Job Interview Fair was conducted digitally, over Zoom, across two days.
The extended interview period added an unexpected benefit: “I have experienced two job fairs and I enjoyed this one more,” says Lydia Roberts, a Bachelor of Architecture student who graduates in May 2022. “I think having two days allowed students the opportunity to be more flexible around their school load in order to avoid missing class.”
Roberts was one of many students eligible for another new addition to the 2021 Job Interview Fair: scholarships. Student winners of the six $500 scholarships were randomly chosen from those who participated in the fair and related career-development events leading up to the interviews, including a resume-writing workshop, interviewing workshop and professionals panel.
Also new this year: sponsorships, implemented both to fund the student scholarships and offset additional fair costs. Chasse Building Team signed on as the title sponsor, while SPS+ Architects and Trueform Landscape Architecture Studio were platinum sponsors and CRB, DLR Group, GH2 Architects, Hoefer Welker, Nelsen Partners and SB Architects sponsored at the gold level. In all, 28 employers participated in the 2021 Job Interview Fair.
On campus or online, the goals were the same: employers providing students with exposure to the range of work they undertake and gaining perspective on new talent entering the workforce, and students getting valuable interviewing experience, learning directly from the source about a variety of careers and often taking the first step in acquiring an internship or career position.
“We recruit the brightest and best talent to join our team,” says Leigh-Anne Harrison of Chasse Building Team. “We have had a lot of success recruiting talent from the CAPLA Job Interview Fair.” That success holds even in a year when all of the interviews are online.
“Thanks to the Job Interview Fair, I was able to get internships the last two years,” says Tulga Ericson ’21 B Arch.
In this year’s CAPLA Job Interview Fair, held February 11-12, 88 students participated in 334 interviews. Though numbers were down slightly, the future looks bright, even if it doesn’t exactly follow the same format.
“We’re envisioning the 2022 Job Interview Fair as a hybrid: both on campus and online,” says Luis Zozaya, CAPLA undergraduate recruiting coordinator and Job Interview Fair project manager. “For those employers who prefer not to travel, as well as remote students, holding interviews via Zoom is an ideal way to connect in real time. But we also want employers and students to be able to have the in-person interviewing experience in our amazing CAPLA facilities.”
“Our Job Interview Fair is a unique and important opportunity for students and employers,” says Dean Nancy Pollock-Ellwand. “And it’s also an opportunity for the college to connect with our professional community. Those relationships are essential to us, and we look forward to continuing to build the pipeline between CAPLA and the built environment professions.”
The 12th Annual CAPLA Job Interview Fair will be held February 10-11, 2022. For additional information and to sign on as an employer, contact Luis Zozaya.