TRAVERSE CITY — Networking will have a dual meaning for Traverse City’s “boomerangs.”

TCNewTech has used the day before Thanksgiving for a networking and job-recruiting event. The “Boomerang Homecoming” was designed to expose young professionals to technology businesses in the area.

The goal was to reconnect “boomerangs” — those returning to the area for the holiday — with the opportunities available.

While the COVID-19 pandemic won’t permit these kind of large gatherings, TCNewTech was able to partner with Traverse Connect’s Creative Coast and 20Fathoms to offer a new twist on the annual event.

ReConnect will take the form of a virtual career fair in 2020. ReConnect will also move a week earlier on the calendar to Nov. 18.

Early response to the 3-7 p.m. event has been positive. As of Monday, 13 different employers had signed up to host virtual booths, and 30 job seekers had registered.

“We’ve already exceeded the number of booths that we normally have at an in-person event,” TCNewTech Executive Director Jennifer Szunko said.

With the deadline to register moved back to Nov. 16, Szunko said she is confident ReConnect will come close to its maximum of 30 booths. Moving away from Thanksgiving eve also helps.

“I think we’ll come pretty close,” Szunko said. “(The day before Thanksgiving) was a hard time to get businesses to commit to being at the Park Place Conference Center in a booth.”

Companies interested in a virtual booth can contact Szunko by email at executivedirector@tcnewtech.org before the Nov. 16 deadline.

Job seekers also must register for the free event at https://tinyurl.com/BacktoMichiganTC or at www.backtomichigan.com.

Job seekers can register up to the day of the event.

In addition to partners Traverse Connect and 20Fathoms, Hagerty, HealthBridge and tccyber/tccodes are supporting sponsors of ReConnect. Szunkio said other participating companies include Consumers Energy, SampleServe, Lear, SafetyNet, KSS Enterprises, Northwest Michigan Works!, GEO and H&H Tube.

Szunko said TCNewTech emailed employers Monday from TraverseConnect’s database.

“I’m very excited that will generate something,” she said.

TCNewTech’s ReConnect is also part of a larger statewide effort under the Back to Michigan brand. The state events are supported by the Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Employment & Training and sponsored by Consumers Energy.

Twelve organizations from Michigan will host eight virtual regional events for job seekers featuring companies in the Upper Peninsula (Nov. 17), Detroit and Flint (Nov. 19), West Michigan (Nov. 19), Lansing (Nov. 23), Great Lakes Bay and Central Michigan (Nov. 23), Northeast Lower Peninsula (Nov. 24) and Ann Arbor (Nov. 24).

Szunko said more than 120 employers and 400 job seekers have applied at the eight events across the state.

Szunko said she was contacted by Hello West Michigan Executive Director Rachel Gray about joining Back to Michigan in July. TCNewTech, which hosted its eighth virtual Pitch Night last week, jumped at the chance.

While TCNewTech’s Pitch Nights use social media, the Back to Michigan events will use the Brazen platform. Several area companies have used Brazen for other virtual job fairs.

Instead of using social media comments on YouTube and Facebook, Szunko said Brazen is more individualized with video chat and text messages.

“It’s more one-on-one interactive,” Szunko said. “It’s more like walking up to booth at a career fair, but it’s all done online.”

“We’ve already exceeded the number of booths that we
normally have at an in-person event.” TCNewTech Executive Director Jennifer Szunko

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