‘Spring’ Career Fair: MTU students exposed to employers

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette More than 2,000 MTU students met with 208 recruiters as part of the university's annual Spring Career Fair on Wednesday afternoon.

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University’s annual spring Career Fair took place on Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m in the Student Development Center — one of the only places on campus large enough to contain the event.

The event drew 208 recruiting companies and more than 2,000 students, according to Steve Patchin, Director of Career Services at MTU.

“Last fall we had 370. Fall is generally the heavy recruiting season for [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics professions], some of the companies will not come back (for the Spring Career Fair). General Motors, Fiat-Chrysler — those folks usually do their heavy recruiting in the fall,” said Patchin. “Some companies like Ford will come back in the spring, not doing as much hiring but setting themselves up for the hiring that they’ll do the following fall. So, Ford is very interested in making sure that they’ve got a presence on campus and that their brand is supported.”

Just as the fair brings fewer recruiters, it also brings fewer students. Student numbers from last semester’s fair were between 3,600 and 3,700, although there were still plenty of students in attendance on Wednesday.

Career Fair isn’t just a one-day event for many of the students, as they also take advantage of workshops offered by career services.

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette Most of the event is organized by Career Services, but many of the roles including giving tours to students and recruiters are performed by student organizations including the Pep Band and student-athletes.

“(I’ve done) a bunch of the resume blitzes and some of the interview practices and a lot of time online looking up the companies,” said Maggie Clay.

Clay is majoring in English and biomedical engineering. She’s hoping to find a place with Abel Medical Devices, a company based in Marquette.

“I’m looking for an internship if its available otherwise a full-time job,” said Clay.

Not all students take advantage of those services, however, as some have gotten more familiar with the program. “When I was a younger student I went to the workshops and practice interviews and had a ton of help on my interview and lots of eyes looking over it, but now that I’m more seasoned I can do my own resume and kind of tell when it’s up to par,” said Ben Joseph, a mechanical engineering major looking for a job for after he graduates. “In the past I was looking for co-ops and internships to gain some experience, but now that I’m about to graduate I’m looking for a full-time job, I’d like to get into automation. There are a few companies here that I’ve talked to and things seemed to go really well, so we’ll see how that pans out.”

While it may seem like internships or co-ops and full-time jobs are at opposition to one another, more often than not one is a progression from the other. “There’s a huge trend out there where companies are going to hire co-ops and internships and the August before their senior year, they’re giving these students offers before they even leave the company, trying to take that talent off of the market quickly,” said Patchin.

That sentiment was echoed by William Lepack, a recruiter for Arcelor Mittal.

“We do summer internships and we like to use those internships to groom people for full-time hire. It’s a pretty cheap way to get some real work experience from people and see if they’re a good fit,” said Lepack. “We like MTU students because they have a good background that we’re looking for. We know that they’re technically fit for our environment. We have a good retention rate with MTU students compared to with some other universities that we go to.”

MTU’s majors and academics play into what draws recruiters to the fairs but so do other aspects of the MTU experience, according to Travis Lake, a recruiter for Kokosing Industrial and an MTU alum.

“I remember what the isolation was like at times. “Almost everyone here was willing to travel for school. We’re looking to people who are willing to travel for work,” said Lake. “This is a little bit more freewheeling. At Michigan State it’s a little bit more focused. Here we’re talking to mechanicals along with civils along with construction management students when we get down to Michigan State it’ll just be construction management or just be the civil department and for me this is a little better.”

Of course, the fair doesn’t end at 5 p.m. Wednesday for recruiters or for students.

“Tomorrow will be the interviewing. Campus is gracious enough to donate a whole lot of rooms. You’ll see many many tables lined up in the lobby of the Rozsa because we’ve got literally thousands of interviews that happen the next day,” said Patchin.