Professional Development

Tech workers say in-person networking beats online posting to score a new gig’s NET/WORK, brought together more than 200 professionals looking for new opportunities.

An attendee at NET/WORK advertises their skills on their t-shirt. (Sarah Huffman/

This story is a part of’s Thriving Tech Communities Month. See the full 2024 editorial calendar.

The line to get into NET/WORK wrapped around the building on Tuesday, with professionally dressed job seekers patiently waiting to get it. 

In total,’s annual job fair saw about 250 attendees this year as part of Philly Tech Week 2024 presented by Comcast. That’s a feat considering how much the job market is changing. People are using LinkedIn and other job boards to look for their next role online, instead of in person. even has its own online job search weekly newsletter, This Week in Jobs. 

It’s much easier to connect online, and that now reigns as the norm. Still, In-person job fairs and networking bring their own merits.

So when professionals gathered at NET/WORK, took the opportunity to ask attendees what value an in-person job fair still has. From looking for their first opportunity in tech to simply seeing what the market looks like, here’s what four jobseekers sought out. 

Career pivoters use job fairs to make connections

Penn Medicine nurse Sedia Massaquoi wants to transition into tech. She completed Penn LPS Bootcamp and got a certificate in full stack development. But now she’s ready to put her newly learned skills into practice. Massaquoi attended NET/WORK to get a better look at what job opportunities are out there. 

“It’s very important to be able to make those connections and actually speak to a person,” Massaquoi said. “And see if they’re willing to have you come on as a team member for their company.” 

Working in the medical field, Massaquoi said her role has always been in demand and she’s never had to attend career fairs. Entering a new field, making in-person connections are key to finding opportunities, she said. 

Uzo Ikejiofor attended NET/WORK looking for entry-level software development roles, specifically in full stack development. Ikejiofor works for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, but is trying to break into the tech industry. 

“I like computers,” Ikejiofor said. “There’s a lot of things that I’ve been building on the side and I fell in love with it, because I have more time to do so working remotely during a pandemic.”

After completing a bootcamp with LaunchCode, job fairs have been an opportunity to meet recruiters and make an impression on them before following up via LinkedIn or email, Ikejiofor  said. 

Job fairs help workers come back from resume gaps

After a career gap, reacquainting yourself with the industry can be a daunting task. In-person events make that transition a little bit easier.

John Nguyen has a decade of experience working in tech, working in adtech, fintech and experimentation. He runs his own company doing freelance digital agency work. 

But Nguyen is coming off of a year-long sabbatical. He attended NET/WORK to get himself back out there and see what opportunities are available. Most of his online job search is focused on remote roles, but it’s valuable to see what the market for hybrid and in-person roles are, he said. 

“[I’m] evaluating the marketplace and seeing what it’s like right now, in terms of appetite for software engineers,” he said. 

Building a network post unemployment 

Layoffs take a toll on morale, but building connections can make the job search smoother. For example, Shriya Paritala got laid off from her role as a tech consultant, where she most recently was working as a product manager with Warner Bros Discovery. In-person networking helped her bounce back.

Paritala attended NET/WORK looking for another role in product management, but she also has experience as a developer, a project manager and a business analyst. 

“Networking online and in virtual settings is more in now and more accessible to a lot of people,” Paritala said. “In person, you get the magic of interaction, people can remember you, you can fill in the blanks of your resume that people won’t necessarily fill in themselves.” 

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Series: Thriving Tech Communities Month

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