The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 22.0°F | Fair and Breezy

Fall Recruiting Begins

2001 Career Fair Attracts Fewer Companies

By Rima Arnaout

NEWS AND FEATURES DIRECTOR

160 companies braved a sluggish economy to attend this year’s career fair, which will end today.

Judy L. Chen ’02, a major in Course VI (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), said that there were a lot fewer companies than in previous years and they didn’t recruit as actively. “There weren’t as many Course VI companies as before, but it seems like there were more companies for other majors,” Chen said.

Neil Sengupta ’04 is a Course VI major looking for an internship for next summer. “It’s pretty intimidating with all the companies here, but it’s great because they’re very willing to talk to you and give you free stuff.”

Jimmy C. Chang ’02, an organizer of the career fair, said that running the career fair was a lot harder this year with the down market and the recent tragedy. “We had a hard time getting companies to come, especially startups. A lot of the startups that were at the career fair last year no longer exist this year,” he said.

“However, the people on the committee -- the GSC (Graduate Student Council), SWE (Society of Women Engineers), and Class of 2002 Council -- worked really hard to get this going, and we pulled through,” Chang said. “After talking to a lot of the companies at the career fair, many believed it was better organized and more focused because it was all centralized in one location,” instead of being split between Johnson and Dupont athletic centers, he added.

Seniors prepared for job market

The mood at this year’s career fair “is a little bit different and little more subdued, but it’s not that we’re unaware of it,” Chang said. “I think the senior class understands that it’s going to be a little bit more competitive” this year.

One indicator of this was the seniors’ increased participation in workshops held by MIT’s Office of Career Services and other Career Week events. Over 200 people attended Wednesday’s case interview workshop hosted by Capital One, for example, and Putnam Investments’ talk on Tuesday drew a similar crowd.

Companies affected by attacks

A few companies who had registered to attend this year’s career fair were kept from attending because of the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.

Morgan Stanley was absent, for example, as its offices were among those destroyed during the World Trade Center’s collapse.

Another company, Electronic Arts, was absent for a different reason. Kevin J. Johnson ’02, a new employee at EA, explained that the company canceled last week because it found itself busy redesigning its computer games to eliminate violence that might remind players of the terrorist attacks.

Despite its recent announcement of major layoffs, Boeing company was present at the career fair. Those manning the Boeing booths said that the news was so recent that they were yet unsure what effect it may have on Boeing’s recruiting strategy.

Other recruiters felt last week’s attacks may actually have increased student interest. “We’re hiring significant numbers and we’re happy to report that across the country,” said Central Intelligence Agency recruiter Bryan P. Peters. “A lot of students are coming out, I think in response to last week’s events,” he said.

MIT students are “reknowned for their technology skills and we certainly are in need of their expertise,” Peters said. The CIA is looking for computer science and electrical engineering majors.

Career fair better organized

According to Chang, there was a wider variety of job opportunities available to students when compared to past career fairs.

“Financial industries did not dominate this year,” Chang said. “We still lack in certain majors; we didn’t have a strong presence in majors such as architecture, for example. But in all, it was more representative than in previous years.”

This year is also the first in which both graduate and undergraduate students are welcome on both Thursday and Friday. “It’s working out great. Instead of forcing students to come on a certain day, we give them an option” to work it out with their class schedule, Chang said.

Chang believes today will by a busier day at the career fair than yesterday. “Just the way scheduling works, a lot of students don’t have classes on Friday,” he said.