SICE students pack Fall Career Fair
They came in droves, dressed in their best professional attire and ready to wow a record-breaking number of companies.
Nearly 1,370 students took part in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering’s fall career fair, hosted by SICE’s career services office, and they found 111 companies on hand offering both internships and full-time employment for students. Opportunities abounded for students who were looking to gain experience in the process of looking for a job and for others who are feeling the sense of urgency that comes with the closing of a college career.
Employers were impressed by the candidates.
“I heard employers make comments that students were ‘dressed to the nines’ and ‘extremely well-spoken and well-prepared,’” said Ellen Rodkey, senior associate director for SICE’s career services. “One employer said he could barely get a question in because the students were prepared with so many of their own questions, and it was obvious they had done their research.”
Preparation was the key to the career fair according to the veterans of the event. Taraneh Ekbia, a first-year master’s student in human-computer interaction design who earned her B.S. in Informatics from SICE last spring, arrived looking for an internship and armed with knowledge picked up on previous trips to the fair.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Ekbia said. “This isn’t my first fair, so I knew what I was walking into. Still, it’s somewhat of an overwhelming experience with so many good companies here and so many hopeful people. It’s important to practice what you’re going to say and think about how you’re going to sell yourself. That’s what this is all about.”
Freshman Alex Newquist, who is majoring in informatics with a cognate in business, is just a few weeks into his college experience, but he could hardly contain his excitement of dreaming of the future. The reality of a bright career started to sink in at the career fair.
“I’m pretty excited about the career fair,” Newquist said. “It’s really cool to see so many big-name companies I’m familiar with. I see Target, and I go to Target all the time. It has been really cool to start connecting with people and begin building my network. I would love to get an internship, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities for freshmen. Still, it’s good to get some experience networking with employers.”
Jeffrey Ravindrandurainayagam, a computer science major who is on track to graduate in 2018, was making his third trip to the career fair, and he made sure he was ready.
“This is a good opportunity for students,” Ravindrandurainayagam said. “We know the recruiters want to talk to us. They are focusing on us instead of a wider pool of candidates, and that gives us a better chance of getting a job here than if we were applying on a website. The time goes quickly, so you have to come in with a plan.”
Sami Stegall, a senior in informatics, attended her third fair, and she had some advice for younger students.
“Get started early,” Stegall said. “Come as a freshman or sophomore. Chances are you’re not going to get an internship, but you’ll get a good idea of what to expect and what kind of jobs you can apply for. If you’re an upperclassman, do a lot of career development. Have a great resume, and be prepared for people to ask you a lot of questions.”
Nicole Wichard, a systems engineer with Progressive Insurance and a 2016 graduate of SICE, went through the career fair just a couple of years ago, and she empathized with the attendees.
“When I was a student, I always thought employers weren’t as eager to speak to me as we were to speak to them, but we are just as eager to speak to them,” Wichard said. “We’re looking for a culture fit. We’re big on culture because you’re going to spend 40 hours a week with each other, and we look for a willingness to learn. A lot of the students are really put together, and they have a lot of hands-on experience, which is great.”
Nick Cardwell, another informatics graduate who now works in the IT department for Harvey Healthcare, was impressed with the candidates as well.
“They don’t just say, ‘Here’s my resume,’” Cardwell said. “They act interested. They want to know more about the company. They try to relate to you and ask questions, and being able to relate to us and speak in the language of technology is always impressive.”
The event is a culmination of the work and preparation done on behalf of the students by the career services office, which strives to give students the best opportunity to find an internship or career.
“Career services has increased offerings and improved professional development materials for students to aid them in readying for the fair, and the employer feedback positively reflects this,” Rodkey said. “Our team will continue to get this message out to our students so that they are professionally prepared for the fair. We have also increased our employer relationship building and brought in many new employers to recruit our students. This is an effort we will continue especially as we look to bring in further employers to recruit our engineering students.”
Students will have another opportunity to meet employers at the Spring Career Fair, scheduled for January. For more information, visit the Career Services website.
Phone: (812) 856-6908