How to Navigate a Virtual Career Fair

Though hardly a new innovation, online job fairs offer an opportunity to network from your home office. It's important to remember that you should still put forth the same effort you would during a live meeting.

There's a really nice piece on Fortune right now in which advice columnist Anne Fisher discusses virtual career fairs. Though hardly a revolutionary concept, these online networking events has grown in popularity the past few years. Fisher notes that they give companies the opportunity to cast their nets without having to purchase a plane ticket. It's also a form of networking with which millennials, a target demographic for many companies, have shown to be comfortable.


As Fisher explains, it's important not to let the supposed informalities of online communication get in the way of your presentation of self. She briefly describes the typical format of these events:

"In some respects, a virtual job fair is similar to the face-to-face kind. Once you register for the event and log on at the appointed time, you’ll find you can download information about the employers who are participating, watch videos and, at preset times, stream live presentations. Instead of the usual career-fair booths, you’ll find chat rooms where you can drop in and ask questions."

What's more, there are often opportunities to enter a job interview via Skype. We've previously discussed online job interviews and the preemptive strategies you should consider in order to maximize your chances of doing well. The same concepts apply here and with the entire virtual fair.

Here's a basic summary of Fisher's advice. I recommend taking a closer look at her article, which is linked again below.

Do your research: As with any job hunt, a basic knowledge of the companies you're pursuing can only help you later. Find out about the company reps who will be taking part. Also, be sure you come up with a battleplan for getting the most out of the event. This includes creating a schedule for yourself.

Test the technology: Don't let an unexpected incompatibility hinder your virtual experience. Make sure your system works with the interface ahead of time. Confirm that your microphone and webcam work ahead of any potential interviews. Technical malfunctions  will almost always reflect poorly on you.

Maintain a professional appearance: A username like "nick3lb4ckf4n69" coupled with a sloppy user photo means you're not getting hired. Period. Also be sure to stick with clean, grammatically correct language. Recruiters will use any real sign of a red flag to remove you from their shortlist. The same goes with your appearance in the event of a Skype interview. Don't show up on their screen wearing a tank top you just pulled out from the imposing Mt. Laundry residing behind you.

Remember your interactions: Take copious notes. Remember the names and e-mail addresses of the people you interact with. This will be very helpful with following up, which is a must-do. Remember: your job interview is not over until you've effectively followed up. There's little point in taking part in one of these virtual seminars if you're not going to take all the necessary steps to ensure your best chances of being hired.

For more, keep reading at Fortune

Photo credit: dencg / Shutterstock

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The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?

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What's dead may never die, it seems

The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.

BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.

The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.

As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.

The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.

"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.

An ethical gray matter

Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.

The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.

Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.

Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?

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The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.

"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.

It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.

Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?

The dilemma is unprecedented.

Setting new boundaries

Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."

She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.

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