By Debbie Willmschen

One of Jeff Sackaroff’s favorite job activities is organizing and overseeing a one-day career fair in the fall and spring semesters for the Wilson College of Textiles. As the director of career services for Wilson College, Sackaroff often works with students to identify their career goals and how to achieve those goals. At the career fair, students typically engage with potential employers to learn about career and internship opportunities.

Unfortunately, with COVID protocols in place throughout the past months, the college could not offer the same level of interaction for an in-person event. Undeterred, Sackaroff worked through these challenges during the fall semester of 2020 to design an Employer in Virtual Residence program, a process where potential employers could commit to spending time virtually with students.

“To initiate the program, I recruited companies to participate, which provided opportunities for students to still interact with employers and, more importantly, allowed these companies to stay connected to our students,” Sackaroff says.

Sackaroff first got commitment from several employers to spend time virtually with students and then enlisted interested students. 

“I was a bit worried that virtual meeting fatigue might keep people from wanting to be a part of this event,” Sackaroff says. “But in the end, we had over 300 students participate, and it was really well received. It was more engaging and personal than a typical career fair. I was glad that we did something unique but that still provided everyone with a positive experience.” 

Wilson College recently recognized Sackaroff for his work with creating the Employer in Virtual Residence program with the Awards for Excellence, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees, in the category of Efficiency and Innovation.

Sackaroff has been humbled by the entire experience. 

“It’s nice to find a solution to a problem and to create something of value that people thought was innovative,” Sackaroff says.

As part of his day-to-day job responsibilities within the Center for Academic, Career and Student Services (ACSS), Sackaroff also provides career coaching that addresses a myriad of concerns for students. For example, he might help students determine what career path they want to take or discuss how to engage with employers. Sackaroff’s goal is to help students develop lifelong skills that they can carry with them long after they leave Wilson College.

“My desire is to encourage students to participate in ACSS events,” Sackaroff says. “I want our students to understand that even if they are unsure what career path they might want to take, they can come to an event as an exploration exercise and learn what employers are looking for. Take advantage of these opportunities; they are for you.”

The ACSS supports students through all stages of their journey and offers services and events for both current and prospective students. The Wilson College Career Fair for fall of 2021 will be available as a virtual event on October 14.