Five ways virtual reality can enhance a careers service’s options
Monday, December 9, 2019

If you’re not technologically savvy and missed the millions chasing invisible Pokémon around the planet, you may be wondering what virtual and augmented reality is. It isn’t as complicated as you might think. Augmented Reality (AR) is a hybrid reality that is partially immersive. Your reality is enhanced by wearing a headset or using a smartphone device, which adds interactive digital elements to the real world. Alternatively, Virtual Reality (VR) is fully immersive and creates completely fabricated digital worlds for participants to interact with.

As employers expand their methods of recruitment with AI and gamification, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies seem set to join this evolution. New methods of testing, teaching and engaging with applicants are developing to accommodate society’s technological metamorphosis. With companies like Deutsche Bahn attracting new staff for the past four years with VR and AR technologies by simulating job tasks, VR/AR is not something that should be ignored by career services.

If universities wish to attract the most students, support them in the most efficient and engaging ways, and promote the newest and most innovative careers paths, then considering the capabilities of Augmented and/or Virtual Reality (AR/VR) could be a positive decision. It isn’t so far-fetched to think that students might use AR/VR systems to interact with career services and as part of university methods of learning and teaching. In fact, many university and higher education careers services are already utilising and benefitting from the first steps into this new virtual world (eg through virtual campus tours).

But how can this help careers services?

Here’s five different VR/AR uses that you could be missing out on to more effectively engage with and attract more students:

  1. Virtual internships

Working in an organisation without ever being physically present sounds like something only possible in the Harry Potter-verse or through identity fraud; however, through VR and AR this is entirely possible. Whether that’s in the recruitment process (where students could spend ‘a day in the life’ in their virtual workplace) , by interacting with work through virtual reality lessons and advice or by actually working in a VR/AR version of their office, students can gain work experience in their own time wherever they are.

For example, employers can post VR videos on Youtube channels and students can subsequently interact and learn as if they were physically in the chosen situation. This could significantly expand career exploration and how we gain work experience.

  1. Realistic workplace simulations/360° experiences

As well as virtual internships, VR and AR could offer actual training and practising of skills in augmented workplaces. For instance, as there are aviation simulators, there will also be surgical, engineering, and many other physical and practical skilled job simulations. There are already apps that use 360-degree video immersion in order for medical students to practice in a surgical environment, such as VLIPPmed.

  1. Virtual careers fairs

Virtual tours are already a thing on many websites and it’s likely that these will soon be taken to the next level. Students will be able to visit multiple employers through co-ordinated virtual events. This should allow students access to a wider variety of job and graduate opportunities – as they won’t have to spend the time and money travelling to each one.

  1. Increased career service engagement

Setting up appointments, workshops, or even drop-ins with students, at a time that suits both the careers adviser and the student, can be tricky. However, VR and AR will allow students to book and attend appointments anywhere and still maintain a personalised one-to-one service. Unlike Skype, it could offer interaction with materials and exercises, too.

Furthermore, VR and AR can entice students to be more likely to engage as it is often viewed as new and exciting. VR/AR is currently helping many kinds of establishments, from libraries to sports arenas, to attract people. For instance, you can now take a selfie with the Dallas Cowboys football team and print out the picture. Career services will likely not be offering selfies, but their use of VR could intrigue a modern student audience.

  1. Provides new Career pathways and jobs

On top of the potential for VR/AR’s to enhance career services directly, the VR/AR industry in general is providing careers services with new and varied career paths that they can offer as opportunities to students.

The emerging field of augmented and virtual reality requires skills from hardware and software development, storytelling, and graphic design – to name just a few. Internships focused on VR/AR programming, marketing and filmmaking, with huge organisations such as CNN, IMVU, and 360Heros, are becoming more readily available. So, VR/AR might not just revolutionise the ways career services operate systematically, but also what positions students might discuss with careers advisers.

What are we doing currently?

We are already using this technology! Our very own gradireland team uses a VR experience at our graduate recruitment events. The gradireland #FYI VR Experience is a mixed reality installation, which allows students to engage with some of the hundreds of video interviews we conducted with recent graduates. Using VR headsets and touch screen TVs that displays the web app version of our VR experience, users are transported to a green field, with seven doors to choose from. Once a student chose a door, they are transported to a career-relevant environment where they can watch interviews with recent graduates talking about their career and what their day-to-day job entails.

Our use of VR at graduate recruitment events certainly proved a success: following its first trial, watch time of the gradireland #FYI Channel increased by 486% and views increased by 272% versus the previous period. As a result, the gradireland #FYI VR Experience has now been integrated across all of its exhibitions.

Another example of VR’s success came when gradireland partnered with Queen’s University Belfast careers service to bring the gradireland #FYI VR experience on campus during their careers week. Students were able to explore and engage with the virtual world designed by the gradireland team, watching the career-related videos through virtual headsets and touchscreen televisions. A success for their service, they found the experience encouraged students to seek help from its careers service. This highlights the impact AR can have on student engagement.

View the experience here.

Whether students will ever be given the opportunity to use such advanced technology as AR/VR is no longer a question; the question now is ‘When will it become mainstream?’ And it’s likely the answer is ‘Very soon.’ If you want to offer modern, interesting methods of learning and interacting with your careers services, AR/VR could very well be the way.  

To learn more about augmented and virtual reality technology visit the EdTechTimes website.

¹Babson Survey Research Group