The inauguration of President L. Rafael Reif didn’t stop the students from scrambling to talk to companies at this year’s Career Fair on Friday. Johnson Ice Rink and the 3rd floor track were still packed with students hoping to network with the 370+ companies that attended this year’s fair.
“I’m here to get a better perspective of the companies, give people my resume, and get myself out there,” George C. Arzeno ’14 said.
One new addition to the fair was the digitization of name tags. Upon entry, students scanned their IDs, and a computer would print out a name tag with their majors as listed on Careerbridge. Unfortunately, this resulted in a line that wrapped around from the back from near the entrance to Rockwell Cage and out the main doors. Although there was a 10 – 15 minute wait for entry, students were still eager to get into the fair and talk to the companies they wanted to see.
“There was one company I talked to last year, Chevron, that had a job that was very interesting to me, so I’m going to talk to them again to see if I can get an interview”, Jean Sack ’13 said.
From those new to the fair to seasoned veterans, companies from a variety of different disciplines — with undoubtedly highest representation in Course 6 jobs — were continually pleased with what they saw.
“We’ve seen a lot of interesting people, a lot of smart people,” Jerome Chen from Gameloft said. This is Gameloft’s first year at MIT’s career fair, and they’re mostly looking to hire interns. “We’re here to pick up great seeds and grow those seeds into big dreams.”
Like Gameloft, several companies at this year’s fair were selling their internship programs, not just their full-time positions.
“Today, we’re mainly focusing on our internship program,” Kapil Dilwali ’09, a 3rd year analyst with J.P. Morgan said. “A lot of great students that come through out internship program make great full-time candidates. There are a lot of great sophomores and juniors that we’ve seen today.”
Even more student-oriented, MIT’s own industry leadership training programs, Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) and the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program (GEL), made appearances at the career fair. The two programs are there not just to establish their presence to visiting companies, but also to advertise to students.
“[We’re here to tell the students] if you don’t have these soft skills, you won’t be as successful as you would otherwise be,” said Bruce Mendelsohn, Director of Communications for GEL.
However, even with options not directed at graduating seniors at the fair, some students were still disappointed by the over-representation of companies looking for software engineers or other electrical engineering and computer science jobs (Course 6).
“There are bio companies — you just have to spend a very long time looking for them,” said Rui Wang ’15, who is Course 7 (Biology).
John Kendall Nowocin G, facilitator of career week events, said that over-representation of Course 6 is still a problem, but it’s something that the career fair organizers have been trying to mitigate. They try to identify companies that don’t fall into Course 6, as well as encourage companies that might otherwise traditionally be typecast as being Course 6 to market other jobs they might have available.
“We’re not where we want to be, but we’re moving in the right direction”, Nowocin said.
The perception of career fair being largely Course 6 may also affect how companies interact with students. Jeffrey M. Sperling ’15 felt it was tough to find a job in a Course 6 field as a Course 8 (Physics) major.
“It’s tough to break the mold of your major and the mold of MIT,” Sperling said, “People assume you’re looking for a programming job, when you may want something else.”
Despite this, many students believe that MIT prepares them very well for handling situations like the career fair and gives them the confidence they need to present themselves well.
“This is literally just Rush with companies,” Delian T. Asparouhov ’15 said, “I think MIT prepares you really well for this.”
In terms of the conflict with inauguration, the students at career fair seemed to be willing to deal with splitting their time between both events, or had resolved not to go to the inauguration at all.
“The ceremony is a cool event, but it seems detached,” Kirsten E. Olson ’14 said, “The president getting inaugurated will not determine if I get a job, but me being [at Career Fair] will determine if I get a job. I would have really liked to go to the inauguration. Hopefully, that can still happen”
Nowocin said that the conflict with inauguration didn’t seem to affect the atmosphere of the fair or the overall attendance, though they won’t know for sure until the final numbers are processed. He said that they’ve handled the situation the best they can and were pleased with how it turned out.
“Just because there was a conflict this year and things we’ve had to mitigate means next year will be even better,” Nowocin said.