By Ed Brennen
The Spring Career Fair had been over for 15 minutes, and still students were approaching Tiffany Soun at her Pfizer booth, hoping she’d have time to take a look at just one more résumé.
Soun, who earned her chemical engineering degree from the university in 2014, was happy to oblige.
“I remember what it was like trying to find a co-op,” says Soun, who works as a technical associate at Pfizer’s Andover Pilot Facility — a position she landed thanks largely to her co-op with the pharmaceutical giant during her junior and senior years. “When I was a student, I came to Pfizer at the Career Fair. I wanted a job at Pfizer.”
Back in 2012, Soun was part of the first group of chemical engineering students to participate in the Professional Co-op Program. She credits the support she received from her advisers — from practicing interviews, to fine-tuning her résumé, to crafting just the right thank-you letter — for opening the door to her co-op on Pfizer’s cleaning validation team.
“All you need is to get your foot in the door and you’ll prove to them that you can do the job,” says Soun, whose current role involves the optimization of purification unit operations. “That’s the whole reason why I’m here today. I want to be able to provide those opportunities to students, especially the ones from the Co-op Program. They make use of what the school offers, which I think is smart.”
More than 1,400 students attended the Spring Career Fair at the Tsongas Center, which featured 195 employers — many of whom were represented by UMass Lowell alumni.
“The college job market is very positive right now,” says Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Career Development Greg Denon. “Employers are looking to fill a broad range of positions. While engineering and technology are usually popular, employers at this fair were also eager to recruit students for HR, marketing and sales, operations, health care and education roles. I think this fair really highlighted companies’ broader talent needs.”
John Shepple, a junior majoring in computer science with a minor in business administration, was attending his third career fair. After interning at Eagle Investment Systems in Wellesley last summer, Shepple had Kronos, Fidelity and EMC on his short list for a summer co-op.
“I’ve already been emailing with a couple of them, but it’s good to check in with them here,” Shepple says. “There’s a lot of companies here, so there’s a wider range to choose from.”
Suzie Harris, a sophomore business administration major with a concentration in finance, says the Co-op Program’s Professional Development Seminar had her well-prepared for her first career fair.
“I feel like I know the right questions to ask,” says Harris, who was looking to branch out and find a marketing position. “It’s nice to come to here to get an idea of what you’re interested in.”
Soun, who was looking to fill two six-month co-op positions at Pfizer, estimated she received more than 50 resumes during the three-hour fair.
“I had a line all day. It was more than what I expected,” Soun says. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great experience. I like being on the other side of the table.”
Soun adds that she is the first and only UMass Lowell grad currently working on her 16-person team — something she hopes to help change in the near future.
“I want all of those students to have an opportunity to get industry experience.”
EMC, Kronos, Lonza, MACOM, Raytheon and UTC Aerospace Systems were all platinum sponsors of the event, while MassMutual, Putnam Investments and Symbotic were gold sponsors. Two companies, Kronos and Pickering Interfaces, returned to campus the next day for follow-up interviews with students.