The expense of career fair

Course 6 brings the cash, gets the booths

Fall Career Fair 2013 will see a skewed distribution of industries: Course 6 again dominates the population, and almost all of the participating companies are for-profit corporate organizations.

The current job market ­— which already favors tech companies that are looking for computer scientists — may not be the only reason for this imbalance; does the pricey entrance to the MIT’s Fall Career Fair also contribute to the lack of balance?

According to the MIT Career Fair 2013 website, the highest level of involvement — platinum sponsorship — costs $18,000. The package offers maximum publicity through a catered information session on campus and publication in the career fair booklet, The Tech, web, and Infinite Display. This is followed by Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorship which cost $9000, $6000, and $3000 respectively. The lowest level of involvement, Copper sponsorship, which covers only a booth at the second floor of the fair, costs $1250.

These numbers are on the high end when compared to the price of attending career fairs at colleges. For example, a full table at Stanford’s Fall Career Fair costs 945 dollars, according to Stanford’s Career Development Center. Comparatively, a table at General Interest Career Fair at Princeton costs $550 for corporate organizations, and a table at Harvard’s On-Campus Interview Program (OCI) costs $750, still $500 cheaper than MIT’s cheapest option.

When looking closer at the distribution of companies, the dominance of private business reflects another lacking presence: very few government and non-profit organizations are attending the career fair.

To encourage recruitment outside the realm of private companies, other colleges intentionally vary the cost of sponsorship depending on the type of organization. For example, Harvard and Princeton offered tables to non-profit employers for $100 and $75 respectively. Half a table at Stanford’s Fall Career Fair is $475 for government organizations and $150 for nonprofit organizations. On the contrary, the cost of sponsorship at MIT’s career fair is determined solely by the level of involvement.

For those who are disappointed by the lack of balance at today’s career fair, there will be more targeted career fairs coming up throughout the year. In fact, some schools are not even hosting career fairs this term — Yale substituted their large traditional career fair with mini-sessions targeted towards specific industries after evaluating feedback from both employers and students. It is clear that MIT’s big fall career fair is not the only opportunity to find a job.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

Finally, we have a somewhat-critical analysis of the MIT Career Fair. The fair falls flat on so many levels. The timing is horrible. I'm just getting settled in my classes, and starting to like them. But by the time career week ends, and the interviews end in Oct-Nov, I would have spent most of my energy being distracted by various events and non-events. CareerBridge demands constant attention so as not to miss the blink-and-you-miss deadlines.

Plus, there is the skewed distribution of companies, which you mention. Going to the career fair, one wonders, does any one design or build things other than software these days?

Finally, the fair is held from 10-4 pm with 300 companies present. I know from my experience over the last few years that I will be exhausted by the end of the day, and yet feel like I didn't meet everyone I wanted to.

Dismantling this behemoth, and doing smaller, targeted sessions seems like a good idea. More thought needs to be put into the way the career fair is organized. The Tech should take a comprehensive look at it. Thanks for initiating the debate.

Anonymous about 10 years ago

I'm a former CF board member, and this editorial does not capture the reality of the fair.

We do offer discounts to non-profits/startups/government: it's just not advertised for various marketing reasons (people are generally more grateful when we give them a discount than when they get a reduced price at the start)

The cost is as high as it is because of demand. Believe it or not, MIT students are incredibly attractive- far more so than Stanford where half the graduates are liberal arts majors with no technical skills. We would have 2000 companies who would want to come if we charge $300- and we have no space to accommodate them all, nor are many of them really interested in MIT students vs. many other schools.

Charging a high price lets us restrict entry to those companies who are most likely to hire at MIT. Those who know the value of our students and are willing to pay a premium to interact. Who should you ask about this? Ask the companies- who have come year after year and paid our premiums to recruit here.

Finally, a historical lesson: the system advocated by this editor existed previously: and it was a nightmare. Consulting and other large companies felt obligated to come to every fair: and seniors looking for jobs would feel obligated to attend every single fair and schmooze with the recruiters to increase their chances. It was an arms race. Eventually, the Deans merged the three largest fairs (SWE, GSG, and the Senior Class) and established that no other fairs would take place in the fall. That way, companies and students could save a lot of time, hassle, and worry.

Finally, it should be noted that the high costs have a side benefit- half of the funding for ASA (through the GSG) comes through the Career Fair, as does funding for all of the Senior Class' activities including the ball(I would argue this is justified since seniors are the ones who would arguably be hurt the most by increased fees charged to costumers).


MIT Alum and Former CF Board Member

Anonymous about 10 years ago

Your major isn't as lucrative as CS? Better complain about those (non-existent) career opportunities that MIT is hiding from you!

x about 10 years ago

"We would have 2000 companies who would want to come if we charge $300- and we have no space to accommodate them all, nor are many of them really interested in MIT students vs. many other schools."

What does this even mean? How on earth do you determine if that's actually the case? Just because they might not want software engineers or financial analysts or scientists does not mean they're not interested in MIT students - there are actually MIT undergrads and grad students who study MANY other things (including myself back when I attended). And we always have the most trouble getting any value out of MIT's Fall Career Fair, because it's the same type of companies every year.