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Nick Wiltsie
Students learn about companies at Career Fair 2010, sponsored by the MIT Class of 2011, the Graduate Student Council, and the Society of Women Engineers, on Thursday. Over 330 companies attended.
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MIT students remained in high demand with recruiters at yesterday’s Career Fair, where more than 330 companies came to campus, up 50 from the previous year.

“We feel this is the best place to recruit,” Leonard Cabeceiras, Corporate Recruiter at Vecna Technologies, said. “This is our biggest college recruitment event of the year.”

“We have a very high hiring standard, and I spend a lot of time searching for super-strong engineering candidates,” Calvin Yang S.M. ’98, VP Engineering for Room77, a hotel search-engine startup, said. “I think MIT has a much higher concentration of such top candidates compared to other places. So, if we only had the budget to go to one campus, it would have been MIT.”

As the recession slowly lifts, companies are looking to recruit more students, said Madalyn S. Berns G, a second-year Master’s student and Career Fair Employer Relations director. “Big companies might not have hired as much in previous years, but now they can fill those positions,” she said.

Companies at the Fair echo these sentiments. Cabeceiras says Vecna, a 90-person company, is looking to hire five new graduates this year.

John C. Whaley ’99, CTO and founder of MokaFive, a virtual-desktop company, believes the recession presents a unique opportunity for growth. “The downturn challenges companies to create a revolutionary, new product. People are more likely to try something new. It can actually be a positive thing,” Whaley said.

With the growing number of opportunities comes an increasingly competitive job market. Cabeceiras emphasizes that to stand out, students have to be willing to “take additional responsibilities and set out to prove themselves.”

The brand name

Potential employers hold continue to hold the MIT degree with high regard. Whaley said his company has had “good luck” with MIT graduates in the past, and that the quality of the pool is “quite higher.”

“MIT kids understand technology better,” Whaley said. He added that a resume from MIT immediately “attracts attention, even if it doesn’t have the highest GPA.”

Gerzain V. Rosas ’13 is confident in the value of an MIT education. “Even though job prospects might be down, the skill sets gained from MIT are invaluable,” Rosas said.

Many MIT alumni at the Career Fair are now involved in start-ups, agreeing that their experiences at MIT deeply influenced their current paths.

Nicholas Edelman ’08 from Room77 said that he chose a career and lifestyle that “reflects the intensity and intellectual rigor of MIT.” He also said that MIT fosters in its students “all the qualities needed to be an entrepreneur.”

Lisa Danz ’10, who works for OPower, an energy software company founded in 2007, said OPower likes MIT students because they share a similar worldview to the company.

According to the MIT Entrepreneurial Research Center, about 25,600 companies founded or co-founded by MIT alumni were still existence in 2006, having generated revenues of $2 trillion. Start-up companies founded by MIT alumni include Roomba, Texas Instruments, and Raytheon.

Turnout

Both students and recruiters were extremely pleased in the turnout of the Career Fair.

“We had far more candidates than we expected; we needed more manpower to read the resumes,” Yang said.

Gerzain V. Rosas ’13 said, “It matched and surpassed my expectations. I felt like it was a rewarding experience I could learn from.”

Recruiters emphasized the importance of the human element in finding a job. Dhanvi Reddy ‘09 from Vecna said communication skills are “extremely important.” He also advised prospectives to “ask the right questions and show you’re genuinely interested in working for the company.”