Engineering career fair helps undergrad students


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Students pick up their name tags inside the Fisher Theater lobby for the College of Engineering Career Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 21. The different colored stickers represented the different careers at the fair.

Mike Randleman

The fall engineering career fair is right around the corner and there are more than 280 reasons (or companies) to attend this event. All engineering students are welcome, from freshman on up.

While it may seem insignificant for underclassmen to attend, Trent Moeller, chairman for the fall fair gave his advice to younger students:

“Just go there and take it all in, understand the whole context of everything.”

One certainly does not have to be seeking an internship or full-time position to obtain a valuable experience. Erika Vaasen, chairwoman, stressed the importance for students to “network and explore; see what potential is out there.” By talking with professionals, taking in the environment and gaining knowledge, any student can find value from the fair experience.

The fair is an opportunity and resource for students. However, to maximize this opportunity, preparation is crucial. Roger Bentley, program coordinator for Engineering Career Services, explained how his office can aid a student: “The Career Services office is going to train them to polish that professional image. We know the best practices to make the students appear more marketable.”

The substantive ways Career Services help students come in the form of several workshops advising students on a range of topics stemming from resume creation, professional dress, cover letter writing, etc.

Some of these workshops have already taken place but it is not too late to catch the last few before the fair Sept. 25. There are also two that take place after the fair.

To register for these workshops or to get more information, visit the Fall Engineering Career Fair blog. Engineering Career Services is also active throughout the entire year, and students may utilize this resource at any time to prepare them for their professional future.

In terms of what can be expected from the fair, Bentley projects about 4,000 students will attend. Students will be interacting with industry professionals like Amazon, Google and 3M.

Roughly 80 percent of these professionals, Bentley said, are ISU alumni, which allows for a level of familiarity between student and employer. Within these interactions, many will include students seeking out internships.

“Internships are not required in any of our engineering majors, but they are highly, highly valued,” Bentley said.

Many students worry that internships may derail their academic progress but Bentley said: “You are not falling behind academically, you are really going forward. … [Internships] make their classwork practical.” Also, Bentley said, the engineering college requires all internships be paid and they consider students on internships as full-time students. Because of this, “there are very few drawbacks, if any.” 

If the time may not quite be right to start seeking out internships or career development opportunities, Vaasen said: “[Being] a career fair ambassador would be a great way to start getting involved to see what the career fair is all about.”

Moeller also said, in regards to the importance of simply attending: “When I was a freshman, the career fair was kind of an epic moment for me; it was such a huge event, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it and try to leave a stamp on it.”

On Tuesday, ISU engineering students will have the opportunity to put their own stamp on the event and experience that epic moment.