February 9, 2010

Tech Employers Recruit Engineers

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Despite an ailing economy and the event’s cancellation last year, 75 employers attended the Engineering Career Fair in Barton Hall yesterday. The fair, which was organized and run by the student group Engineering Career Fair Team, attracted between 1,500 and 2,000 students. It also drew such widely known companies as Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.

“A lot [of students] complained that there was no career fair” last year, said Malinka Walaliyadde ’12, head of corporate relations on the Engineering Career Fair Team. “We wanted to do a better job than last time.”

In addition to last year’s cancellation, the depressed economy also made attracting employers difficult. The organizers significantly altered the prices charged to companies for attending the event, said Ojus Patil ’11, president of the Engineering Career Fair Team. The prices not only attracted more employers, but also brought smaller, local companies to the fair, he said.

“We wanted to attract companies that would be a good fit for Cornell,” Patil said. “We hope students come away with information to become better informed applicants, since it’s a tough economy.”

Several companies at the fair said that the economic downturn had initially reduced the number of jobs or internships they could offer, but now they have recovered enough to begin hiring again.

The economy “did affect [us], but we’re getting back on track,” said Miky Patel from Terra Infotech, an information technology company. She said her company had a few internships available, but was mostly looking for full-time employees.

However, the ailing economy did not decrease recruitment at all companies.

“We tend to do a lot of hiring during economic downturns,” said Ken Bromberg, who was representing Bloomberg at the fair. His company’s revenue fell only one percent during the slump, he said. Bloomberg was looking for interns and full-time employees to fill research and development positions, Bromberg added.

Students at the career fair said that internship and job opportunities seem to be improving.

“A lot of my friends have gotten interviews in the last few weeks. It seems like the economy’s at least starting to recover,” said John Foody ’11, who was looking for a summer internship at the fair.

“I think opportunities are starting to open up now, and hopefully it’ll be a good summer,” agreed Shantanu Kulkarni grad. Kulkarni, who was looking for full-time positions, said the fair offered a “good selection” of companies.

Several students commented on the range of companies represented at the fair.

“I ran into a company that makes things for spinal cords — just spinal cords. So I thought that was interesting,” explained Kamaal Washington ’10, who wanted a full-time mechanical engineering job in the space and defense or product design industries.

The Engineering Career Fair Team, which organized the career fair, was founded last summer. Its 15 students began meeting in September to plan the fair, said Patil, the group’s president. The team partnered with the Engineering Co-op and Career Services.

“[ECCS] serves mainly in an advisory role,” Patil said. “We do the planning and organizing.”

The team’s efforts attracted 75 companies to the fair, which was also attended by between 1,500 and 2,000 students, said Walaliyadde, head of the team’s corporate relations.

While many students were looking for specific jobs or internships, others had broader goals.

“I’m looking to see what I can do in the workplaces. I’m a math major, so I’m not sure,” said Barbara Bai ’12. “The economy might be why I felt pressure to attend the career fair because I need to get a jump start on my career,” she added.

Companies also had goals beyond recruiting for the summer.

“Ultimately, we’re also here to get the company name out,” said Wesley Hood, from Barrett Paving Materials.

Original Author: Michael Linhorst