Some of the biggest moments in a person’s life are commemorated with pomp and ceremony, such as a graduation or wedding.
Then again, some of the biggest moments are only noted with a smile and a handshake.
Nearly 1,250 students from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering hoped for their own big moment during the Fall Career Fair held at the Monroe Convention Center Sept. 6. A total of 104 companies were on hand to recruit SICE students from every department in the school.
“The employers I spoke with found our students to be above and beyond prepared, said Ellen Rodkey, senior associate director of career services at SICE and an organizer of the event. “Companies enjoyed talking with our students and enjoyed great coaching conversations with them. Students also had the opportunity to learn about professional networking by attending the event and discover some of the unique careers they might not have considered prior to attending the fair.”
Students began arriving hours before the convention doors opened eager to showcase their skillset for potential employers.
Bhavna Sinha, a first-year graduate student in data science, was excited to build relationships.
“I love being able to meet employers face-to-face and ask them questions about the position,” said Sinha, who was one of the first students to arrive at the venue. “It means more when you can connect with an employer. This career fair is a huge benefit for us.”
For Jay Patel, a senior in informatics searching for a consulting job, past experiences at career fairs were critical to his preparation for this year’s event.
“I learned I needed to be more prepared,” Patel said. “In the past, I didn’t have the right relevant experience. I’ve improved in that area. I can talk about the experience I’ve gained with more confidence, and I made sure to practice presenting my resume to employers.”
Saajan Kumar, a senior in informatics, was making his third trip to a SICE career fair, and he showed up with plenty of confidence.
“I feel like I’m a good fit for most of the companies I’m looking at,” Kumar said. “I researched where I thought my skillset could best be used, and my previous trips to the career fairs taught me to really be prepared. I feel like I’ve grown since the last two fairs, and I’ve gained experience and developed my technical skills.”
Bhushan Malgaonkar, a first-year graduate student in computer science, already has professional experience, and he hoped it would impress future employers.
“I have a couple of years experience from when I lived in India, so I can draw on that,” Malgaonkar said. “I want to be a software developer, and I have a clear list of companies I want to talk to. I have a gameplan, and the career services office at SICE really prepared me, so I’m comfortable.”
Students throughout the career fair praised SICE’s career services office for helping them prepare.
“I talked to our careers services office, and they were great in helping me identify exactly where I needed to go to meet the companies I want to talk to,” said Miao Jiang, a Ph.D. candidate in intelligent systems engineering. “They helped me polish my resume, and they did a great job of preparing me.”
Not everyone was at the career fair looking to set a clear path for their future. Garrett Shuman, a sophomore in computer science, was busy networking.
“I came to the career fair as a freshman, and I’m coming back to talk to some of the same people I spoke to last year,” Shuman said. “Employers remember your face, and I just want to update them on what I’ve learned over the past year. A lot of companies will only give internships to juniors, but they’re impressed when you come earlier and build that relationship.”
Stephanie Runte, a junior in informatics, has helped classmates in the past prepare for the career fair while working in the career services office. She was making her first visit to the event, and she was hoping to highlight past internships.
“I’m looking for an internship for the summer of 2019, and this past summer, I worked for a healthcare company and did some work with Amazon Web Services in the field of cloud computing,” Runte said. “It was very valuable experience and really helped me build my resume.”
Employers were impressed with the candidates at the career fair.
“What we found here at SICE is that students have a better humanistic understanding of technology,” said Alex Neilson, an associate project manager for the career hiring team of ServiceNow. “That’s where ServiceNow is shifting. We’re adding a humanistic approach to how the enterprise is run. Our line is setting up workflows so an individual can work on their passion, and the technology can just help them. The students here have such a passion for that and an understanding of how those things integrate, and we’re really excited to meet with the students.”
Adam Austin, a recruiter for Geico IT, took part in the reverse career fair and the resume review blitz events held earlier in the week, and he was excited by what he saw.
“I’m impressed with how prepared the students are so early in the school year,” Austin said. “We’ve been to a handful of universities so far this year, and definitely, IU is up there with the top tier in terms of having students who are prepared and well-organized. They understand what employers are going to look for in an internship and their career, and with their resume. I’m impressed with how prepared they were, and they’re all really approachable. They’re very willing to take some coaching and apply what works for them.”
Marcell Gibson, who works in automation quality assurance for General Motors, could easily relate to what the students were going through at the career fair. He graduated from SICE’s informatics program three years ago and remembered his experience.
“It’s actually kind of strange,” Gibson said. Three years ago, I was here on the other side of the table looking for the job. On this side, it feels good that I might be able to help someone have the feeling of, ‘Thank you. I know what I’m doing after I graduate.’ I can help my fellow Hoosiers. It’s good to be an example, too, because three years ago I was like them, and now I’m with General Motors and making an impact.”
Darren Miller, manager of application development for Anheuser-Busch, wasn’t looking for skills as much as the right fit at his company, and he was excited to talk to the students.
“For us, it’s more important to have the attitude as opposed to the skills,” Miller said. “We want them to really fit in with our culture. We’re very driven, very motivated. We’re humble, but we’re hungry for success. We’re really looking for those kind of candidates who have the basic proficiency but can learn the specific skills. We really like folks from IU and have a lot of them in our program. The informatics students bring a lot of analytical thinking that they’re trained to have, and that really helps us out in terms of putting them in positions to make an impact.”
The Spring Career Fair will be held Jan. 24, 2019. For more information on SICE’s career services, visit our website.