Register now for virtual Collat Career FairThe Collat Career Center team faced an unusual challenge this fall when finalizing plans to move its popular Collat Career Fair online. How could they engage students in a unique way to participate in a newly virtual event while also educating them on how to prepare for and participate in the fair?

Their innovative answer? Online gamification with a virtual escape room (see a glimpse below). 

In the pre-Covid world, many UAB students sought entertainment in Birmingham’s many escape rooms. A small group of friends or teammates pay to be locked in a room of clues, working together to solve a mystery and earn their freedom (and bragging rights if their time breakout time was low).

So when Collat career services professionals began brainstorming ways to engage students while following the university’s social distancing guidelines, Andreia Stechmann got an idea. Stechmann, Collat’s assistant director of employer engagement, thought back to an online professional development conference she attended earlier this year. During one session, she learned how a library had created a Harry Potter escape room to get kids excited about reading.

“I started thinking of all the possibilities, and I thought, ‘We could do that!’” she said.

Stechmann drafted an outline revolving around an online Google Form puzzle that made a game of answering questions about proper etiquette and how to navigate the career fair.

Andreia StechmannAndreia Stechmann, Assistant Director- Employer Engagement, Collat Career CenterCollat’s virtual escape room is a customized online puzzle that married education and entertainment as participants answer questions and advance to the next room – but a wrong answer lands them at a dead end and provides further information. Before students can “escape” the virtual room, they must answer four questions to ensure they retained the material – a “quality check” Stechmann said.

After escaping the room, students are entered in a drawing to win a $100 gift card to go towards business attire for the fair. The Career Center will randomly select three students for the prize before the September 22 fair.

The Collat Career Team hosted a demo of the escape room for faculty to see how they could incorporate the gamification into their classes for the fall. Nearly 650 students have completed the virtual experience so far. The escape room has been popular with freshmen, seniors, and graduate students alike and has been adopted in the classroom by faculty who teach at all levels.

“We’re so thankful that our faculty adopted our escape room,” Stechmann said, “and that they see it as a learning tool for students.”

Students can access the Virtual Escape Room in the Collat Career Center's virtual office in Canvas. The virtual Collat Career Fair will be hosted in Handshake on Sept. 22, 2020.   Students are encouraged to log onto Handshake, register and build their schedules before event. The fair will go from 2-5 p.m. Contact the Collat Career Center for more information.