Students gathered Wednesday in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center for the Center for Careers and Life After Brown’s first in-person career fair since 2019. There were 80 employers at the event from a variety of industries, including technology, engineering and education.
“It's just really interesting to see all the different companies,” said attendee Greta Filor ’24.
The four-hour-long fair attracted over 1,800 students, exceeding attendance for the 2021 and 2020 virtual fall career fairs, according to Matthew Donato, director of CareerLAB. Donato wrote in an email to The Herald that although it was much more “labor-intensive” to prepare for an in-person event, plans to recruit employers and complete logistical planning had been in the works since the summer.
“Students definitely had excellent opportunities to meet with employers through our online virtual fairs. … However, I think that most employers I spoke with were happy to be back in person to meet directly with students,” Donato wrote. “Based on the steady student foot traffic throughout the four-hour fair, it seems that many students were eager to meet with employers in person as well.”
Filor, who first heard about the event a few weeks ago, was excited to see recruiters face-to-face and said she felt confident interacting with representatives from different companies.
“I think (the career fair) is beneficial because a lot of the booths here are from companies that I had never heard of before, which is my main reason for coming. I feel like we haven't been exposed enough to the smaller … companies,” Filor said.
The event featured a number of well-known organizations in a variety of different disciplines, as recruiters from TikTok, the Peace Corps, Bank of America and D.E. Shaw Research were all in attendance. Donato noted that in the past, fall career fairs have hosted an “over-representation” of finance, consulting and technology employers, yet he believes that this year was more inclusive.
But many students say they did not see a drastic change.
Miku Suga ’22.5, a computer science concentrator, attended the in-person career fair back in her sophomore year, before the pandemic. Suga felt that the fair was “a bit lacking in the arts” this year and believed that a fair with employers from a more diverse set of fields would better represent Brown as an institution.
Alexander Bautista ’25, a prospective neuroscience concentrator, said he saw a dominance of engineering and finance companies at the fair, with a few employers involved in “social work.”
Donato advised students to keep in mind that “not every employer is hiring positions that align neatly into an industry designation.” He stated that recruiters representing one type of field may be able to offer students a position in a completely different field within their company.
“That's actually why it's great to talk to employers directly, because you may learn that you can work for a cool organization like the American Mathematical Society even if you're not a math concentrator,” Donato said.
Matthew Kutam ’26, who is planning to concentrate in applied mathematics, said he was “so excited” to attend the fair despite being years away from entering the job market. He added that he believes that the fair “opens the door” to opportunities that may not have been available to first-years.
“I think as a freshman you kind of want to get a vibe check right now in terms of where everything is at,” said Kutam. “You’ll become a little bit more prepared at least … just dipping your toes into the water.”
Although students widely agreed that employers were friendly and welcoming, some said the experience could be overwhelming, particularly for those hoping to make a good impression with recruiters.
“Overall, I feel like I was kind of intimidated, just because I feel like a lot of them are trying to look if the student matches the career,” Bautista said. “So you kind of have to be able to (say) what you're interested in and how you would fit into that company.”
Filor said she hopes students of all class years attend career fairs in the spirit of exploration, but expressed a desire to improve the format of the fair in the future. She said that addressing the long lines, crowded spaces and noisy environment that made it difficult to interact with employers would make the fair more enjoyable for all attendees.
Donato, who is currently working with his team to put on the annual Engineering Career Fair in early November, wants students to understand the benefits of attending such events, pointing out the opportunity for attendees to practice their “elevator pitches,” develop their networking skills and find out what employers are looking for when recruiting.
“Career fairs are not necessarily the place to go to decide on your future career path or to directly secure a job or internship, but might be one initial step in the process of exploration for some students,” Donato wrote.