Written by Sammi Steele, Director of Student Programs & Events at Rewriting the Code.
Virtual events spiked in popularity in 2020 for an obvious reason: virtual was the only option. Over two years later, as many organizations transition back to in-person events and conferences, we must not forget the continued importance of Virtual Career Fairs and the unparalleled access they provide.
In 2020, Rewriting the Code (RTC) held the first major Virtual Career Fair for college women in tech. Empowered by our commitment to access as well as our charge to disrupt gender and racial inequity in tech, RTC will continue offering this highly impactful resource. Here’s why we encourage others to do the same.
We bravely disrupt inequity to boldly impact the future.
Inequity is the word that comes to mind when thinking about students trying to attend traditional tech and recruiting conferences. The costs of attending an in-person conference can easily surpass $1,000 when considering transportation, lodging, food, and registration fees. This leaves students searching and fighting for scholarships, making their peers their competition, and adding another layer of stress to their already daunting road to employment. Even some virtual events can also cost hundreds, leaving virtual attendees also disenfranchised.
Although a student registration fee up to $15 is advertised for RTC’s virtual career summit, RTC events can always be attended at no cost to the student. While $15 may seem minimal in comparison to other conferences, we understand this is still cost-prohibitive to some. For this reason, every registrant can write an essay in lieu of the $15 registration fee. Students do not need to justify their need to write the essay because access should have no admission fee. Over 50% of RTC members utilize this equity-focused option.
Access is not just financial.
Financial access is only one aspect of RTC virtual events. By leveraging the Airmeet platform to host our virtual events, we were able to seamlessly add closed captioning, customize event branding, offer multiple language options, and record videos for playback. This is a step in the right direction to help make our events accessible to as many students as possible, and with as many learning needs in mind. Additionally, language translation welcomes global attendees who can enjoy our events in a language other than English. The Airmeet platform also makes it possible to host a large number of students and company partners while offering an array of break-out, small group, and 1:1 interactions. The value of these options and flexibility are observed in post-event feedback where 97% of participants at RTC’s 2022 Virtual Career Summit reported they would attend another RTC Virtual Career Fair in the future.
Correcting inequity starts with us.
At face value, much of what we’ve mentioned may seem to only benefit students. While that would be enough, these features are also advantageous for companies and organizations, too. By attending a virtual event, companies have increased access to a globally aggregated pool of talented women in tech from the comfort of their desks. Talented women are everywhere! Outdated recruiting strategies see the top 25 schools in the US frequently being over-visited, leaving little time or money left to meet incredible women who are spread across less prominent institutions. With all barriers to entry removed, the 2022 RTC Virtual Career Summit was able to host amazing women from 376 schools from around the world.
As the world transitions back to in-person events we can not forget the importance of virtual career fairs. In-person events will allow smaller groups to interact more intimately which is important and has a place, but the equity and access fostered by virtual events simply can not be replicated in person. Virtual events should not and can not go away now that the option to be in-person has returned.
Are you a college woman interested in careers in tech and want to know more about our events, programs, and community? Hop over to Rewritingthecode.org to learn more!
Are you an employer who would like to help us right the ratio? Contact RTC Founder & President, Sue Harnett, at firstname.lastname@example.org!