One group being impacted the most by the coronavirus outbreak is student organizations. The CDC has issued interim guidance for organizations planning mass gatherings or large events in the U.S. In fact, the CDC is encouraging event planners to modify, postpone, or cancel large events for the safety and well-being of attendees and staff. In the wake of this advice, major events like SXSW EDU and FIRST Championships have been canceled, and many events like the USA Science and Engineering Festival 2020 have been postponed. More are expected to follow suit. So whether your event is a regional competition or a state-wide, national, or international conference, it’s time to start thinking through a contingency plan.
To start, it’s important to recognize where you’re going to be impacted as an organization. Here are a few concerns we’ve heard from our partner organizations:
- With student organizations canceling events and meetings, students are losing out on social, professional, and educational activities that can help them build their resumes, sharpen skills, and showcase their work/talent to be “seen.”
- Some competitions require in-person attendance, and now, organizations are scrambling to figure out how to engage their students/members and help them compete virtually.
- Travel bans mean that international events and events requiring worldwide participation are canceled. This isn’t just a hit to students, this is a hit to organizations’ brand awareness and diversity and inclusion efforts.
- Even if you move forward with hosting your event, other chapters or locations may cancel theirs, limiting the number of people who can attend larger events. The biggest example we’ve seen is the canceling of local and regional conferences and competitions. Because of these cancellations, national events don’t have students to feed into their programs, and no one is available to compete.
So what can you and your organization do to help students?
- Keep communicating about events and event management.
It’s more than just canceling an event. Talk to your students about what you’re doing and how you’re remedying the situation. Seek ways to move the event online with virtual competitions and meetings. Consider hosting on platforms like Tallo where students can submit projects or work and compete online. As a bonus, you’ll be able to track everything digitally and never have to worry about losing scores or projects. Plus, students can post their brag-worthy accomplishments on their profiles.
- Make the most of technology—and on Tallo, the ManageOpps functionality!
When you have a profile on Tallo, you can connect with students in a variety of ways and even host events on the platform that engage your students. You can also give your students the opportunity to earn Digital Badges. Think of them like trophies for their profiles.
- Help your students showcase their work—even if you have to cancel the event.
Students are proud of their experience and hard work, so encourage them to showcase it online in order to connect with colleges, companies, and scholarships. On Tallo, they can update their profile with videos, test scores, and major accomplishments, and stack their profile with flair—using Digital Badges!
Plus, since you won’t be able to participate in person, you can message all the students in your organization who would have attended. This lets you reassure those students that you’re working on ways to ensure they can still be a part of the action they’ve worked so hard for. While you’re talking to them, drive them to a virtual event where you can help your students network with others. If companies can’t come to you, take your students and members to them online.
- Finally, partner with other organizations.
We’re all in this together. Other organizations are going through the same thing you are, and partnering together can help you host major events virtually, and make them just as successful with corporate sponsors and virtual “booths.”
As you work to keep students engaged and promote their accomplishments, remember that you’re not alone. Your students are some of the most digitally savvy people on the planet, and technology has advanced to help ensure everything you can do at in-person events, you can also do online. And of course, we’re here to help.