University News

Engineering department job fair attracts record number of employers

Over 200 engineering concentrators network at annual Internship and Career Fair

Staff Writer
Thursday, February 6, 2014

The School of Engineering collaborated with the CareerLAB to set up the annual Internship and Career Fair. In addition to networking, the event offered students prep for job interviews and provided resume building tips.

Though the economy’s slow recovery has left many students with bleak job prospects, engineering concentrators remain in high demand, drawing record numbers of employers and applicants to the School of Engineering’s recent job fair.

The school’s third annual Internship and Career Fair Jan. 25 boasted a record turnout of 33 companies and over 200 students, said Robert Rome, associate dean for development and planning for the School of Engineering.

“I had to turn companies away, because we didn’t have enough space,” he said, adding that the first Internship and Career Fair, held in 2012, drew 10 companies and 80 students.

The fair gave students the chance to seek out internship opportunities, network and learn about careers in engineering, Rome said. “There’s a pent-up demand to get hands-on experience in the industry,” he said.

Elizabeth Gurin ’16, a potential materials engineering concentrator, said she found it helpful to have such a large variety and quantity of companies — ranging from small, local start-ups to large, multinational businesses — present. Gurin said speaking to a range of potential employers at least allowed her to learn what qualities companies seek in interns.

“I just got a lot of exposure,” Gurin said. “It was a good trial experience.”

But Gurin added that she was “disappointed” by the lack of opportunities for students interested in materials science. “I know that as an engineering student, especially coming from Brown, that’s a pretty sought-after applicant,” she said.

Though jobs may be easier to attain for students in certain engineering disciplines, “most of them end up paying pretty well” and are “plentiful and recession-resistant,” Rome said.

“The engineering market is strong,” wrote Andrew Simmons, director of the CareerLAB, in an email to The Herald. “It is certainly one of many good career pathways for Brown students and alumni.”

The fair was open to the entire engineering department and hosted both undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty members. In a “tough government funding climate,” the fair helped connect faculty members to companies that could sponsor their research, Rome said. Representatives from several companies expressed a desire to expand relationships with the school, he added.

Alums played a large role in shaping the success of the fair, Rome said. Several alums attended the event, and others encouraged companies to send representatives.  “Seventy-five to 80 percent of the companies came because of the alumni community,” Rome said, adding that he hopes the alumni presence will motivate more students to go into the engineering industry and “complete the life cycle” when they come back to Brown as alums.

CareerLAB worked closely with the School of Engineering to organize the fair, Simmons wrote in his email to The Herald. A few days before the event, CareerLAB advisers held walk-in hours for students in the Barus and Holley lobby, where they offered a “resume critique, helped students develop their ‘elevator pitch(es),’ showed them how to research employers and discussed proper etiquette for following up with recruiters,” Simmons wrote.

“We want to make sure that CareerLAB is included in everything we do,” Rome said, adding that there is discussion of merging the school’s current online job bulletin board with CareerLAB’s larger Job and Internship Board.