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Career Week Begins

By Naveen Sunkavally

For students of all years interested in permanent or summer employment, Career Week begins Monday.

Organized chiefly by the Class of 2000, the Graduate Student Council, and the Society of Women Engineers, Career Week includes the MIT Fall 1999 Career Fair, which will consolidate the three small career fairs usually held in previous falls.

More than 270 companies have registered for the fair, to be held on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Companies will focus on hiring graduate students on Sept. 30 and on undergraduates Oct. 1. In addition to the fair, Career Week will include several discussion panels and forums featuring MIT alumni relating their experiences to students.

One fair better than three

President of the GSC Luis A. Ortiz G. said that part of the reason for having one large career fair instead of three small ones is to take advantage of “economics of scales” by eliminating “duplicate costs.”

Hugo B. Barra ’00, president of the class of 2000 and one of the lead organizers, estimates the cost of Career Week at $70,000. He said that Career Week will produce $250,000 in revenue, from companies’ registration fees and by selling resume books. The revenue will be divided between the Class of 2000, GSC, and SWE. For comparison, last year’s Class of 2000 career fair, which attracted about 160 companies, cost around $40,000 and grossed $100,000, Barra said.

The GSC career fair last year cost $10,000-$15,000, Ortiz said.

Having one career fair also brings in a wider range of companies, who in previous years might not have gone to the smaller career fairs. In the past, “companies [in the past] did not know which career fair to go to,” said Ortiz.

“Companies definitely prefer to come once,” said Barra.

In addition, Barra said that having one large career fair provides a solid structure upon which to base other activities -- the panels and discussion forums -- which make up Career Week.

Students will have to plan ahead

For students, having one career fair is good in that it gives exposure to a greater variety of companies than those present at smaller career fairs, said Ortiz, but he said that the timing of the Career Fair puts students in a “bit of a crunch.” He said that in the future the fair may be moved a few weeks later in the term.

“I would say that the reason why students would want more than one career fair is that they don’t have a well established strategy” for approaching fairs, said Barra. He encourages students to “figure out a plan of action” and to prepare ahead in formulating questions.

“Don’t think of a career fair as a place to get your next job -- it’s important just to make contacts, look at other fields,” said Ortiz.

And after going to the career fair, it’s important to follow up and establish closer contacts, said Barra.

Career fair for all students

Students, from freshmen to seniors and graduates, should consider attending the career fair. Although companies will be looking to hire for permanent positions, non-seniors will also have the opportunity to discuss summer internships, said Barra.

Each of the three chief organizers, SWE, the Class of 2000, and the GSC (the three who usually hold career fairs each fall), had a representative for organizing the event., said Ortiz. And within each group, there were several functional groups fro carry out more specific plans.

Career Week was helped out by a large number of other student groups on campus, including: the Career Services Office, Eta Kappa Nu, the Sloan Undergraduate Management Association, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, 50K, the Society of Hispanic Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi.