Why the Career Fair, like MIT, is unique
The Sept. 20’s issue of The Tech featured a front-page article suggesting that participation fees for organizations to recruit at MIT’s Fall Career Fair contributed to a lack of balanced recruiter representation and that fees were unreasonably high when compared to peer institutions. While participation fees at the Career Fair are higher than peers, the article failed to investigate how the Career Fair differs significantly from our peers and is uniquely modeled to add value in supporting student life at MIT. Furthermore the article did not properly recognize that all campus-wide recruiting initiatives — including those of the GECD-Career Services and at other schools across the country — also see extensive Course 6 recruitment and face similar challenges attracting balanced representation.
The MIT Fall Career Fair is unique with no analogue at any of our peer institutions. Unlike our peers where flagship campus career fairs are organized by career resource offices with revenue going back to the administration, the Career Fair is student run and organized with the majority of proceeds going back to support student life adding significant value to the MIT community. No MIT student, graduate or undergraduate, will leave MIT without having been the beneficiary of student life programming enabled by proceeds generated from the Career Fair.
Last year Fall Career Fair revenue, in addition to support from the ODGE, enabled the GSC to implement a new backup childcare program for graduate families, the Somerville Saferide Shuttle, graduate orientation and other GSC programs serving the graduate body. Career Fair revenue also allowed the GSC to significantly expand its funding board (a pool that makes up 41 percent of the overall GSC budget) which goes directly back to supporting student groups. Through the funding board the GCS enabled student life programming for graduate dorms (e.g. SP, Ashdown, Tang, Eastgate, Westgate), cultural groups (e.g. ASO, Canadians Club, Sangam), religious groups (e.g. Buddhist, Christians on Campus, Hillel, Muslim Students Association), departmental student organizations (e.g. WHOI, GA3), and others (e.g. Outing Club, Rainbow Coffeehouse, Thirsty Ear Pub).
In addition, Career Fair revenue supports 100 percent of MIT senior class events including Senior Week and Senior Ball. A small portion of Career Fair revenue also goes to the Society of Women Engineers, which redirects its funds back to students via its annual career fair banquet while also supporting the next generation of engineers. By not investigating how career fair proceeds are spent, The Tech article did not acknowledge the significant ways in which the Fall Career Fair model differs from our peers in that it directly benefits students by enabling extensive student life programming.
In addition, the article failed to recognize the mechanisms in place to attract a diverse representation of potential employers to the Fall Career Fair. While the article did mention some of the higher tiered sponsorship levels, it failed to mention a discounted participation fee that was used specifically to attract start-ups, government agencies, non-profits, and other underrepresented fields. In fact, of the closely 400 organizations attending the Career Fair this year, 95 companies fell in this discount fee category. While the presence of course 6 recruiters may dominate, it is worth noting that these 95 underrepresented organizations exceeded the total number of companies present at the Harvard On Campus Interview Program where only 87 total organizations were present. In expanding space to accommodate underrepresented organizations, the Career Fair Directors secured this year, for the first time, half of Rockwell Cage. Some of the underrepresented organizations that were present included Teach for America and SMART Scholarship for Service.
In general, the significant presence of Course 6 industries compared to underrepresented organizations is a challenge faced by all campus-wide recruitment as well as recruiting efforts by the GECD-Career Services and schools across the country. It is not limited or unique to the Fall Career Fair alone, nor is it a result of the participation fee structure as The Tech article implies. Each year the Fall Career Fair team works diligently collaborating closely with the GECD-Career Services and partner organizations (GSC, Senior Class, and Society for Women Engineers) to host the largest student organized recruiting event of its kind in the nation with over 40 panels and info sessions and over 175 student volunteers covering over 250 volunteer shifts throughout the week. As such, the Career Fair provides as much diversity in recruiter representation as possible while also striving to secure the resources necessary to support student life programming that adds value to the entire MIT community.
Caleb J. Waugh G, Joshua A. Zeidman ’14, Anika Gupta ’14, and Jonathan Chien ’14 are writing on behalf of the Fall Career Fair Partners and Directors.