24 Jan Companies recruiting more UW engineering students
Madison, Wis. — Business is booming again at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Engineering Career Services, and that’s great news for student job-seekers.
“This is the best hiring situation we’ve seen for [bachelor of science] students since 2001,” said Susan Piacenza, associate director of ECS. “Fall 2004 recruiting was double that of spring 2004.”
More than 100 employers are expected to attend Career Connection, the college’s spring job fair, this Tuesday and Wednesday – the highest number attending the spring fair in several years and an increase of 40 percent compared to last year’s fair.
2004 had an extremely slow spring recruiting season—the worst in 16 years, Piacenza said. Fall 2004 recruiting was up about 25 percent over fall 2003, and while it’s not yet up to pre-recession levels, Piacenza said the growth is extremely encouraging both to students and to ECS staff assisting with job searches.
The boom in interviewing and job offers is occurring across all engineering majors. While majors like civil and environmental engineering held steady even during the recession, ECS is again seeing a huge demand for IT employees. Consulting positions also are resurging. For example, “Accenture“http://www.accenture.com/ and ZS Associates have greatly increased their recruiting presence on campus and have extended numerous offers to graduates. Microsoft also made several recruiting trips to the engineering campus this fall.
For the past several years, multiple offers had pretty much evaporated for engineering students. Now such offers are returning, particularly in hot areas such as health-care consulting and chemical and biological engineering, along with the return of signing bonuses and relocation packages.
“We have students who are getting multiple offers and are having to decide between using their skills in consulting or technology,” Piacenza said. “One student was so happy with his multiple offers, he bought pizza for our entire office.”
Chemical and biological engineering senior Megan Gullicksrud attributes her multiple offers in part to her own extra effort. “I have done a lot of extracurricular activities to differentiate myself from other students and have completed multiple co-ops and internships to expand my experiences,” she says.
Still, she says, “I was surprised that I got as many offers as I did, since the job search for graduates in the last few years had been so difficult.” She also reports receiving incentives after the final offer, including more money and more vacation.
Civil and environmental engineering senior Scott Hughes also fielded multiple offers, including one from a company where he completed a co-op term last summer. With a certificate in construction engineering and management, Hughes chose to accept an offer at M.A. Mortenson’s Minneapolis-St. Paul division. The company is located near family and friends, but “the final factor was that it was a very competitive offer,” he said. “They offered a good salary, good benefits, a signing bonus and a relocation reimbursement.”
Employers are getting creative to compete for the best students. One industrial engineering senior, who enrolled in a co-op program at a large medical device company, received an offer from the company to pay for her remaining three semesters of school on the condition that she would work for them full time for at least a year after graduation.
“Of course, she’s strongly considering it,” Piacenza said.
It’s particularly gratifying to see companies return to campus for recruiting after an absence of several years, said ECS Director and Assistant Dean Sandra Arnn. Companies returning after an extended recruiting absence include Carrier Corporation, Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, United Conveyor and Bose. Ford Motor Company returned to campus recruiting this fall after a three-year absence and scheduled more than 100 interviews.
“We are delighted to see the return of these employers.” Arnn said. “This is a major shift.”
A wide range of first-time recruiters joins the returning companies. These include Google, Amazon.com, Clorox, Stockamp & Associates, Bobcat, Biodiesel Systems and Brunswick.
Also seeking engineers is a large contingent of federal employers, including national research laboratories, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, the National Security Agency, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has 700 job openings to fill.
All in all, Piacenza said, it’s a good time to be earning an engineering degree.
“It’s especially good to be a graduating engineer from UW-Madison,” she says. “Companies know our graduates are well-prepared and have a strong work ethic. They’ve participated in extracurricular activities and co-ops, and they reflect well-developed leadership skills. Those qualities are high on any employer’s list for potential employees.”