Second Life Fashion Show
With the economy taking a toll on hiring practices, more and more companies are turning to innovative means of conducting in-person interviews. Second Life (SL), a virtual reality computer environment that simulates real life, offers an economical way to conduct global interviews, and recruiters are jumping onboard.
"Recruiting is taking place in meta universes right now," says Brian Cleveley, University of Idaho adjunct professor of virtual technology and design, and director of the program's computer studio. "The same questions and same issues arise in Second Life – or in world – as they do in real life."
The Career and Professional Planning (CAPP) department at the University of Idaho is helping students prepare for this virtual world. On Feb. 4, they held a fashion show in Second Life. Lasting an hour, the show was broadcast on a large projection screen in the Idaho Commons Food Court.
The show’s focus was on business wear and professional behavior. “People are asking, 'How do I present myself in an interview?’" says Cleveley. "People make incredible fashions for the meta universe, and those using SL should take advantage of the opportunities that are available."
While Second Life may be a virtual environment, the talents used in world are very real. For the show, the university partnered with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) candidate in fashion design from Australia, and the runway coordinator and models were from around the globe.
KD Dial, instructor in the College of Business and Economics' accounting department, provided event management – completely within the SL world. She negotiated the contract with the runway coordinator and oversaw the show's logistics.
Lori Wahl, faculty member in Family and Consumer Sciences, acted as the fashion industry consultant. An independent designer with international accomplishments, she advised the project’s design and production values, ensuring industry standards are met in world. Wahl also served as the event's emcee, and worked with the international models for the show.
The Virtual Technology and Design program created the runway model changing rooms and designer's display pavilion for the university's virtual campus island, Idahonia, which was to be the Second Life locale for the show.
A panel discussion about recruitment in Second Life and other related topics followed the fashion show. The panel consisted of Wahl; David Eames-Harlan, content strategist for IBM.com Content Authoring Services; and Russell Miyaki, vice president and national interactive creative director for TMP Worldwide.
The University's Career and Professional Planning department agrees with the virtual world recruitment strategy; in fact, CAPP is looking into bringing recruiters to campus "virtually" for career fairs as soon as this fall.
Cleveley said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the extension of the University of Idaho into virtual reality. "Some people may consider Second Life a game," he said. "However, it's really a forum, a community of people, with which we need to be familiar. Students currently in junior high are using virtual interactive worlds, and we need to be prepared for when that generation is in college. It will be here before we know it!"