Posted on March 16, 2021 by Christopher Reichert

For years, the Educator Career Expo has marked the end of one journey and the beginning of another for UTSA’s student teachers. The fall semester of 2020 marked a break in that tradition, as the event was canceled due to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Since then, however, tireless work has been done behind the scenes to bring the career fair back in a virtual format.

According to event coordinator and career counselor Michael Zucker, the cancelation was also an opportunity.

“After last semester’s [expo] was canceled, it was a lot of internal work to figure out what went wrong, so to speak, and what we could do to improve, how we apply what we learned,” he said.

Previously, the expo has been a resounding success, says Zucker.

“It was a very successful and fruitful event because districts connected with teacher candidates and UTSA teacher candidates connected with opportunity in spades.”

Zucker attributes much the fair’s track record to its targeted nature, as it caters specifically to teaching students.

“Most of the large-scale career events are kind of come-one-come-all, or industry or college-specific; this is role-specific,” he said.

In turn, this legacy has helped attract employers to the expo.

“One of the nice things about how it was in that past is that it was pretty tried and true…a lot of the districts and partners became pretty reliant on that consistency.”

But the transition to virtual expo hasn’t been without its difficulties. Traditionally, the in-person expo has been built into the clinical teaching schedule since the beginning of each semester. Even before the semester began, Zucker would help students prepare for the expo and host panels with potential employers. All of this effort would pay off at the end of the semester when the student teachers came together for the expo.

“It was like a celebration,” Zucker said. “There was a communal vibe to the whole thing because they started talking about it at the beginning of the semester. It was a day off of our student teaching, we were able to learn about opportunities that were out there, and we were able to dress up and present ourselves professionally. It really was like a celebration, a communal ‘we did it,’ and that whole vibe is gone.”

With the isolation inherent in virtual platforms and the absence of that community, Zucker says participation has been a key challenge, and not just for the expo.

“Now that things have gone virtual…one of the trends nationally is apathy in terms of virtual engagement,” he said.

This comes as a surprise to him, given that many students might be more familiar with a virtual environment and more comfortable connecting with others online. However, he acknowledges that the extra steps needed to register for and log into the expo may discourage some participants, especially when it may bleed into their personal time.

“A lot of our students are clinical teaching and enduring their own stressors that come with what we’re going through,” Zucker said. “Then you crank up the uncertainty involved with all of this and those things lead to them just disengaging from the virtual space, especially in any after-hours or extracurricular activity.”

While there is a struggle to attract students, Zucker and his colleagues at the career center have had less difficulty recruiting potential employers; they can boast that more than 90 are scheduled to participate in this year’s virtual expo. Zucker attributes this to a number of factors, including adaptability of employers and the familiarity of recruiters with navigating online hiring tools. He also admits there are practical benefits for some employers to participate in a virtual expo. For example, more distant school districts no longer have to travel to participate in the event. Nevertheless, Zucker isn’t sure how long this employer participation will last if students remain disengaged.

“I think it’s a fine line to walk though, because if our students keep not participating, why would any district come back?” he said.

Even with all these challenges, Zucker firmly believes the career expo is a boon to the students he works with.

“To take everything you’ve learned, all your skills, all your competencies, all your sacrifices into the classroom with you to make a difference – we want to bring those opportunities directly to your doorstep,” he said. “The benefits are limitless for students.”

Beyond providing opportunities for student teachers, the expo also provides opportunities for the employers that participate.

“Obviously, the benefit for our employers is they fill their schools with wonderfully qualified, enthusiastic, professional future educators,” he said. “Our employers benefit by the pedagogy, proficiency, the preparation that our clinical teachers are able to hit the ground running with.”

And while the focus of the expo is on teachers, it can benefit other UTSA students as well. Zucker says that the event can also connect districts with school counselors, psychologists, curriculum designers, and more.

The Spring 2021 Virtual Educator Career Expo will be held on Wednesday, March 31 from 3:30-6:30 pm. Students interested in registering for or learning more about the event should visit for more information.

Students are encouraged to attend an informational symposium on Tuesday, March 30 from 3-5 p.m. The symposium aims to provide students with tips and pointers for making the most of participating in the expo the following day. Students can join the symposium on ZOOM by visiting

Zucker also encourages anyone with questions to contact him.

“I want any student that has any obstacle to reach out to me directly,” he said. “One of the things I love about my job is directly interacting with our students and our teachers.”

Zucker can be reached by email at .

-- Chris Reichert


— Christopher Reichert