Convenience, privacy, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings―just some of the benefits candidates can expect when participating in a Neurology Career Center Virtual Career Fair. When it comes to the job search processes, nothing beats this online option for return on the investment of only an hour or two of your time.
Stephanie Wyrostek, DO, is just one of many to have experienced these benefits from a virtual career fair hosted by the Neurology Career Center. As a neurology resident during the heart of the pandemic, she didn’t have very many opportunities for an in-person job search. Luckily, she discovered the Academy’s online option in April 2021 as part of that year’s all-virtual Annual Meeting. “I had access to the AAN mobile app and the virtual career fair was advertised there,” she recalled. With nothing to lose, Wyrostek completed the quick registration process and signed up to meet potential employers online.
“I actually thought it was really convenient,” she said recently. “They had the listings so I could sort them by my specialty and hiring managers were all available so I was able to talk with them right away.”
Although Wyrostek already had a one-year fellowship lined up, she didn’t want to wait to the last minute to conduct her job search. Nor did she want to default to the job offer she already had with her current residency without at least exploring other opportunities. She’s glad she followed her instinct because the conversations she had that April afternoon introduced her to a location and employer she didn’t even know existed: Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI.
“I’m from Pittsburgh and I’ve lived there most of my life, although I did my fellowship in Texas,” Wyrostek explains. “I had never heard of La Crosse before, so I wouldn’t have thought of it on my own.”
The steps Wyrostek followed were “pretty straightforward” as she recalls. Once she had registered for the career fair, she started filtering the potential employers by her multiple sclerosis specialty, in line with her goal of working in MS rather than general neurology. Since she was looking for jobs focused on outpatient care, she used that criterion as a second filter. Then, she says, “I remember there were some jobs that were leadership positions and I didn’t want that, considering this was my first job out of fellowship. That narrowed it down significantly.”
Now, with a smaller group of potential positions, Wyrostek says she talked to everybody that was left on the list, or about five or six, including employers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and yes―La Crosse. Those conversations led her to a longer phone interview with the Gundersen recruiter and ultimately to in-person interviews in La Crosse later in the summer.
Wyrostek’s in-person meetings took place in a single day, shoehorned into a vacation with her husband. The two had planned to drive from Pennsylvania to Yellowstone but now included La Crosse in their itinerary―with Wyrostek’s interview suit and shoes sandwiched under the car carrier in a garment bag for the whole trip. She was offered the job and was able to start when her fellowship ended.
Now, with the benefit of experience, Wyrostek has some thoughts about virtual interviews compared to in-person. “I think the virtual interview itself is pretty similar to in-person,” she said, “unless you have technical issues or lag. But I think the in-person interview is still important because you have to see the city. That’s just as important for your happiness.”
As for the value of the online career fair, Wyrostek is enthusiastic. “I can’t speak more highly of having all that information available to you virtually, just having it there on a plate without having to seek it out. I don’t think virtual is a substitute for in-person. But for screening, it’s great. You don’t travel, you don’t have to spend money or take time off work.”
If you’re thinking of trying a virtual career fair, Wyrostek has some advice: “For someone coming out of training I would encourage them to explore the market. It’s really tempting to take the first job that’s offered to you because it’s such a hassle to keep job searching.
“If you’re open to different geographic locations, you’ll have more options,” she added. “But if you have a geographic restriction, at least explore all the jobs you can in that area―otherwise, you won’t know what else is possible. Then, if you do explore more but still take the first job, at least you’ll know that you looked and that you’ve made the best decision that you can.”
For Wyrostek, staying open to new options brought her an opportunity she couldn’t have planned for. “This job is pretty much what I wanted,” she said. “I have a lot of control over my clinic and I get a lot of time to spend with my patients which is one of the most important things I look for in a job. And La Crosse is a little gem. I’m really glad I talked with the recruiter. The way she described it is exactly how it’s been, with good recreation and friendly people. It’s been a great experience.”
Would she use a virtual career fair next time she needs a job? “Oh, yes,” came the quick answer from Wyrostek. “My job search was pretty painless. Because of the virtual and telephone options that were available, I didn’t have to go to places that I could rule out on screening. If there was going to be a deal breaker I was able to find that out without pursuing it. I would definitely use the virtual job fair again.”
If using a virtual career fair sounds like a good idea to you as well, you’re in luck―the AAN’s Neurology Career Center offers them annually in January, April, and October. To find the next one, simply check the Career Center’s web page at careers.aan.com and click on Events. And don’t forget about the Career Center’s other helpful offerings such as the Salary Calculator Tool, which Wyrostek used to research pay for her position. The CV review is another valuable option, providing advice from experts for making your CV the best it can be. One way or the other, the AAN Neurology Career Center has something for everybody, starting with the virtual career fair.