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Hustle and bustle of engineering career fair indicative of success

Student-run event draws a large crowd

Third-year industrial engineering student Yi-Wei Ang and a team of student volunteers organized this year's engineering career fair. (Photo by Jon Horvatin)

The noise level in the McCaul Street Exam Centre last week was in sharp contrast to the usual quiet that reigns during testing periods.

As soon as people walked through the doors, they were met by a wave of sound: the mingled voices of students and recruiters all talking earnestly. The engineering career fair was underway.

The fair, organized by students for students, is in its third year now. Representatives of 45 companies, the most to date, filled the hall. Yi-Wei Ang, a third-year industrial engineering student who was the head of the organizing committee, said 1,100 students had attended the fair during its first three hours; he was hoping to have 1,500 attendees by the fair’s end.

“It took a lot of work to put the fair together,” he said. “It was all student-organized with the help of faculty and their industry connections, and it was funded by the engineering society. The fair is a huge area of growth.”

Second-year engineering science student Daniel Olshansky came to the career fair to search for a summer internship.

“I’m here because I have to specialize next year,” he said. “I’m looking for a four-month internship. Once I get through it, I hope I’ll know what I want to specialize in.”

Olshansky was excited about the opportunity to talk with company representatives in person.

“You’re not just a number, not just sending a resume out to someplace on the web,” he said. “Here, you actually get to come and talk to people. I even had a technical interview today and solved some problems.”

The face-to-face opportunities also tempted Gavilasan Gengatharen, a fourth-year electrical and computer engineering student.

“I’m graduating and I badly need a job,” he said. “I came here earlier, because I wanted to see what opportunities were out there for me. I went back and said, ‘Let’s print some resumes,’ because I talked to some people and they told me about some positions I’m interested in.

“This fair is a great idea. I can’t believe I have this opportunity to come get a job – otherwise, you have to apply online. It’s straightforward; you can actually see people’s faces.”

Recruiters were also pleased with the chance to talk with potential employees in person.

Terry Borer manned a booth for Altera, a Silicon Valley company with a small research and development office in Toronto. His company, which bought out a start-up created by U of T professors, has been recruiting at U of T for 11 years.

“We’re mostly looking for full-time employees, but we also take summer students and professional engineering year (PEY) students,” he said. “It’s good for our hiring pipeline: try before you buy.”

Lionheart Xiong, a second-year engineering science student, said that although companies weren’t necessarily keen to hire second-year students, the fair gave him an understanding of the industry and what employers were seeking.

One of the many students who dressed in something other than their usual jeans to meet employers, Xiong also enjoyed the chance to put on a suit and tie.

“I feel more confident,” he said. “People tell me I look stylish, and I feel like a boss.”