Career fairs lead to competition for top employers


Jacob Rice

A representative of the Collins Aerospace corporation meets with students at the Spring Engineering Career Fair on Feb. 7.

Career fairs allow students to interact with a plethora of employers in one space, though some attract more attention than others. At the Engineering Career Fair, Collins Aerospace attracts attention from all sorts of engineering majors, making it one of the most competitive opportunities for students.

Oftentimes the line around the Collins Aerospace booth can take several hours to get through, depending on the time of day.

Collins Aerospace specializes in many different types of aviation, but what appeals to students the most is the field experience as well as the opportunities. They offer at least 1,000 internships and co-ops throughout the U.S. each year. For many students, this internship means the chance to grow and pursue professional careers.

For Braden Stock, a sophomore in aerospace engineering, it means getting a head start early in his college career.

“I’m looking for a summer internship,” Stock said. “They were mostly offering upper-level graduate programs for the future, which I really appreciate.”

Although many assume that Collins Aerospace is a company catered towards aerospace engineering, they support a wide variety of engineering majors. Supervisor Joseph Mott spoke on why they attend the career fair and how it benefits their company overall.

Students captured are gathered on the first floor of the Scheiman building to inspect multiple company booths. (Dylan Mescher)

“We have a lot of sites within close proximity to the school, and we have a lot of passionate alum that are engineering managers that want to come back and identify top talent,” Mott said. “There’s a lot of really strong engineering disciplines that we recruit for here. Anytime we come here, we know that we’re going to find top talent.”

Mott also shared some of the qualities they look for in strong candidates. He said that although GPA is a strong factor, their company also looks for involvement and how well candidates communicate with others.

“So the first thing we look for is communication skills. We need someone that is clear and concise on how they communicate,” Mott said. “To put it in simpler terms, how they are able to articulate or tell their story.”

For some students, it’s not just about finding a potential internship or co-op. Career fair events like this also give many the chance to network with companies as well as their fellow peers.

“I’m not looking for a position currently,” said Alex McAvoy, a senior in mechanical engineering. “I’m more so looking towards the future, so I was mostly networking a bit.”

Emma Salzman, a senior in mechanical engineering, said because Collins Aerospace is so popular within the engineering industry, it can be difficult to compete for a spot.

“Unfortunately, I am blessed and cursed with a general major,” Salzman said. “That makes things a little bit difficult with companies like this because they have the most people looking for those spots.”

At the Business, Industry, and Technology Career Fair, students crowded the booths of John Deere, Collins Aerospace and Pella Windows competing for positions with the top employers.

Business career fair at Hilton (Robert Dillon)

Jared Grove, the senior data scientist at John Deere, said they search for students with experience with projects, predictive modeling and machinery.

Michael Balvadez, the university relations recruiter, said John Deere is thinking about the fall recruiting season.

Balvadez said that John Deere is very excited to recruit at Iowa State. He said they want to better understand the student population’s career needs and what they are looking for.

Tristan Hewick, a sophomore in finance, said that he felt John Deere was the most popular and most talked to company.

Hewick said he attended the career fair to network with companies and seek an internship. He said his favorite company was Nivo, which he felt was the most personable and relatable company.

Kya Stilwell, a junior majoring in communication studies, says she enjoyed talking to Pella Windows the most.

“I felt they were passionate about what they do and very personable,” Stilwell said. “I really liked their values too.”

Stilwell said she felt Collins Aerospace was the most popular employer at the fair. Stilwell said she would talk to this company because she heard it was a well-known and well-liked company.

Jacob Black, a finance major at Iowa State, said he was at the career fair to get his name out there and make connections with different companies.

Black said he enjoyed talking to Pella Windows the most as well. He said he talked to them at the engineering fair and enjoyed talking to them so he came back to their booth.

Career fairs will continue throughout next week with the Design Career Fair taking place Wednesday and the People to People Career Fair taking place Thursday.