University News

Engineering students, alums connect at job fair

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 9, 2012

The School of Engineering hosted its first networking and career fair Sunday. The event was organized in response to student complaints that “engineering didn’t do a very good job of helping them find jobs and internships,” said Christopher Bull, senior research engineer and senior lecturer in the School of Engineering, who helped organize the fair.

 “Normal career fairs held on campus for everyone have a lot of consulting and are geared towards (international relations), math or economics majors. The (computer science) department also has a lot of their own recruiting,” said Alice Leung ’13, an electrical engineering concentrator. “In the past, engineering hasn’t had a lot of engineering companies coming to recruit at Brown.” 

Leung said some engineering students have attended career fairs elsewhere or found jobs and internships online.

The School of Engineering’s move toward more aggressive on-campus recruitment for concentrators comes two years after the school was formed. While Bull said there was no “direct line” between the school’s creation and the decision to host the career fair, he added that the new Dean of the School of Engineering Lawrence Larson enthusiastically supported the idea.  

“It was the right time, and we had the right push,” Bull said.

About 20 alums representing nearly 15 companies attended the event, for which about 150 students registered, said Karen Haberstroh, assistant professor of engineering. Companies and labs represented at the fair included Google, Microsoft, a California-based start-up called CouchSurfing and Draper Laboratory. DPR Construction, a company that has been actively recruiting on campus for some years, was also represented.

The fair began with a discussion in the morning between professors and alums regarding the University’s evolving engineering program. The afternoon was devoted to interaction between students and alums. This included several panels, a speech about collaborations between neuroscience and engineering and time during which students could move from table to table to network with alums from the represented companies, Bull said.

“It was great hearing specific stories from alum(s) who have gone through very different paths in their careers,” said Ryan Sailor ’13. “It helps a lot because without guidance from alums, it’s difficult for us to really know what’s going to happen after school.”

Sailor said the fair could have put more emphasis on mechanical and chemical engineering. 

“Most of the companies were for electrical and computer engineers, although the other fields might have been underrepresented due to the job market,” he said. 

He also said he would like to see more companies represented in coming years and that, ideally, alums such as those employed by Draper Laboratory and Lincoln Laboratory would come as recruiters from their companies rather than informally networking through alums.

Melissa Loureiro ’07 GS ’08, who now works for Hamilton Sundstrand, attended the event because she “was looking for ways to give Brown students opportunities to find jobs and to connect back to Brown.” She said she hopes the event continues in the future and lauded the professors for organizing the event. 

Professors also said they viewed the fair as a success. Haberstroh said she has high hopes the event will be held “for many years to come” and that the companies involved will be encouraged to recruit through outlets like the CareerLAB. CareerLAB helped to plan this event, she said.

The fair’s organizers will reconvene this week to discuss ways to expand and improve the fair next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *