Dressed in suits and armed with resumes, nearly 600 students flocked to the Campus Recreation Center this week for the Engineering and Technology Career Fair.
More than 90 companies were on hand, up 25 percent over last year, to recruit students with cutting-edge technology and business skills. They included Fortune 500 corporations, midsize firms and emerging businesses and represented a range of industries – from aerospace to internet to medical device manufacturing to fly-fishing equipment. The companies were recruiting engineering, computer science and other majors who will be graduating in December as well as looking for students to fill a variety of co-op positions.
“We’re trying to get the cream of the crop,” said Dave Call, engineering manager for SMC Ltd., a medical device contract manufacturer with offices in Sterling. SMC is looking for plastics engineers for full-time positions and undergraduate engineering majors to work six-month co-op placements. A high-energy work ethic, strong communications skills and a passion for their work are some of the characteristics SMC looks for when hiring, said Call, who is a UMass Lowell Plastics Engineering alumnus.
Many of the students attending the Career Fair are enrolled in the university’s newly expanded co-op program
. Those students take a professional development seminar before they are placed in co-op jobs. In the seminar, they polish their interview skills, build a resume and learn how to interact with potential employers.
“I’ve been very impressed. The students came prepared. They’ve researched our company online and they are very articulate,” said Martha Kelley, human resources manager with Percussion Software, a privately held content-management firm in Woburn that was recruiting students for software development, customer relations, marketing and technical writing co-op positions. “We’re very interested in UMass Lowell students.”
Owen Welsh, a junior mathematics major, had done his homework in advance of the Career Fair. He researched the companies beforehand and sought out those with which he wanted to connect. He asked thoughtful questions and then jotted down notes about the information he gathered. Welsh, who is enrolled in a professional development seminar, says it was helpful to hear firsthand about what skills companies want in their new hires.
Viraj Palkhiwala, a junior biology major, attended the event to look for a good match for a co-op position, which he hopes to nail down for the summer. Palkhiwala believes professional experience will be good preparation for medical school. “I think a co-op will help me,” he said.
By the conclusion of the Career Fair, 33 students had lined up next-day interviews, mostly for spring and summer co-op positions. Three companies, AptarCary, NEX Performance Films and SMC, returned to campus to meet with the students.
“It was great to have such a tremendous response from employers, especially during this tough economy. The students took the event seriously and, as a result, many will benefit in very direct ways,” said Priscilla March, associate director of Career Services
“Career fairs are precious opportunities to bring employers and students together, to make connections between academia and 'the real world.'"
The Career Services & Cooperative Education Center hosts multiple career fair events each year for all disciplines. Check the Career Services
website for schedule and dates.