19 Sep UW engineering career fair sees highest attendance in four years
Madison, Wis. – At least 3,600 University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering students looking to enter the job market descended on the Engineering Centers building last week for the semiannual Career Connection Fair.
Sponsored by UW-Madison’s Engineering Career Services, the fair brought at least 200 companies – the largest amount in four years – to Madison Sept. 13-15 to gather resumes and answer student questions.
John Archambault, the fair’s organizer and director of the Cooperative Education and Internship Program at ECS, estimated the fair saw between 1,200 and 1,400 engineering students walk though the display hall each day. Those students came from across the spectrum of majors, such as biomedical, mechanical, industrial and electrical engineering.
That broad spread of students was met by a diverse work list, with Madison-based companies such as TomoTherapy and Epic Systems joined by major corporations such as Shell, IBM and Halliburton. Major research labs such as Idaho National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory also garnered a lot of interest, with long lines of students attracted to the research and development angle.
“We’re seeing employers wanting to bring a lot more representatives, which would indicate their needs are up,” said Sandy Arnn, assistant dean and director of ECS. She estimated that out of the 200 companies in attendance at the fair, between 900 and 1,000 people were there to network with students.
Interest this year was so broad, Arnn said, that it motivated the creation of a new reception for doctoral candidates and recruiters looking for PhD-level staffers.
The growth puts the fair at its largest number of participating companies and students since fall of 2001, when ECS set a record at 240 companies. Arnn said this number dropped off sharply following the attacks of Sept. 11, however, reflecting the rise in unemployment that came as doubts in the economy grew.
The fair recovered as the economy did, however, thanks to a stronger marketing effort to bring the university to the attention of more companies. Drawing on the strengths of the university such as a high ranking by U.S. News and World Report, ECS was able to entice companies such as gaming developer Activision, environmental technology firm Geomatrix Consultants and spinal surgery provider Zimmer Spine.
More companies in attendance were especially advantageous to UW-Madison’s large body of international students, who can have some problems finding a position since companies have restrictions on hiring foreign nationals.
“International students are very good at participating in the fair and getting their resumes out to potential employers â€¦ they are extremely active,” Archambault said.
Arnn said the success of this fair is a good sign for the beginning of the official recruiting season in October, where companies schedule times to come to campus and conduct interviews. Students who took the time to prepare resumes in advance for the fair will be in a more advantageous position, since through their connections they can have an interview set up by the time the recruiters get to campus.
“Many of the organizations build their interview schedules based on the resumes we created,” Arnn said.