The 13th European Career Fair was held at MIT this past Saturday, attracting candidates and employers from all over the world amidst a bleak economy. Over 4,000 candidates from more than 16 countries seeking internships and jobs sent their resumes in and attended the fair this year.
Students from all over the region were drawn to the fair. While standing in line to talk to the automobile company Audi, Ian Tracy ’11 discovered that the person behind him was a student from Boston University, and the person in front of him was from Columbia University. These companies recruit infrequently in the United States, only coming to central locations like Boston, said Tracy, a mechanical engineering student.
Although the fair still attracted a strong crowd, the number of companies attending the fair dropped from 140 last year to 114, said Arne Hessenbruch, a visiting lecturer in charge of marketing and public relations for the fair.
Hessenbruch explained that the companies had to commit to attending the fair in October, when the financial crisis was beginning. Companies at that point were unsure to what extent they would be hiring.
Thoughts of the declining economy also affected students at the fair, which began a week that featured 71,400 layoffs on Monday and another 11,500 on Tuesday, according to CNN. “The number of domestic tech jobs is decreasing,” said Allen Yin ’11. “In Europe, there are many jobs and not too much of a language requirement.”
For Yin and others, there is also the excitement of exploring new countries.
Tracy just wants a chance to further explore his German heritage and utilize his German language skills that he’s developed in classes at MIT. The financial crisis, however, had no bearing on his decision. “Germany is facing a similar crisis that’s just as hard as in America. Also, students pay less tuition because European universities are state sponsored and so internships pay a fraction of what they do here.”
Financial concerns were also not a worry for Anna Shcherbina ’11, especially because of Europe’s weak economy. Rather she’s looking forward to experiencing another culture and practicing her french.
While the fair was successful in drawing in students from all over, it was not without its share of problems. In particular, only 16 percent of the participants were from MIT, according to the fair’s website.
In addition, crowding caused some delays and long lines. “The recruiters were really nice, but the lines were bad,” said Hessenbruch. “There were 20-minute waits so the logistics could use some work.”
Overall, Hessenbruch explained, the fair went smoothly without any glitches due to much improved organization than previous years.
Starting in 1997, the European Career Fair was organized by European Club members who desired to work back in their home countries after graduation. Since then, the Fair has drastically expanded, growing more than 40 percent across recent years, with a continued influence from the MIT European Club and a recent 2007 partnership with the European Commission.