MIT hosts first in-person Fall Career Fair in three years
Yi: ‘a career fair for the entirety of MIT should reflect the entirety of MIT student interests’
The in-person Fall Career Fair was held in the Johnson Athletic Center Sept. 23. The event was organized by MIT Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD) and the student career fair committee.
The fair was open to MIT undergraduates and graduate students, as well as recent alumni and current Harvard students. Ty Allen G, Fall Career Fair Chair, wrote in an email to The Tech that there were “4,198 MIT attendees” total, with “sophomores (878) and first year undergraduates (831)” being the largest attending cohorts. In addition, classes were not held on the day of the career fair.
At the fair, attendees were able to network and converse with representatives from over 250 companies with industries ranging from computer science to chemical manufacturing. Representatives included technology companies like Google and Tesla, government agencies like the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Security Agency, and local startups. Various MIT offices and programs such as the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center and the Environmental Solutions Initiative also participated.
Allen stated this year’s fair was “aimed to give undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and recent alumni the opportunity to chat and network with employers in-person.” Citing that the last in-person Fall Career Fair happened in 2019, Allen wrote that the fair was intended to “include the spirit of connecting MIT students to a large number of diverse employers,” and that the fair gave participants a chance to “explore career options.”
In an email to The Tech, Noah Raby ’23 expressed that the fair was “overall good, with as wide a selection as an in-person fair could reasonably have.” Ugo Okwuadigbo ’26 wrote in an email to The Tech that the fairs were “an ingenious way” to “connect a student with a potential employer and leapfrog their career.”
Some students, however, noted a heavy skew of companies present towards certain career fields, particularly computer science and finance. Chris Viets ’24 remarked in an email to The Tech: “There were so many companies asking for software engineers!” Similarly, Alexis Yi ’25 wrote in an email to The Tech that after going through the three sections of booths, they “realized that this was pretty much a finance and [Electrical Engineering and Computer Science] fair,” adding that “a career fair for the entirety of MIT should reflect the entirety of MIT student interests.”
During the fair, companies were categorized into nine industry clusters: Aerospace, Defense, and Transportation; Chemical Manufacturing, Materials, and Supply Chain; Computer Science; Data Analytics, Consulting, Finance, Investment, and Trading; Design, Engineering, and Research; Energy and Environment; Government, Non-Profits, & Social Impact; Hardware, Robotics, and Software; Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Sciences; Media, Marketing, Humanities, and Creative Careers; and MIT Offices and Programs.
With regards to the Energy and Environment industry cluster in particular, Yi felt that it was lacking in both the appropriateness of its naming and the companies represented, which included oil companies that “actively destroy ecosystems and communities.” They also questioned how “a company like Schlumberger [the world’s largest offshore drilling company]” was placed into a cluster “with the word ‘Environment’ in it.”
The CAPD organizing team stated that the processing of selecting companies for the fair involved “engagement and interaction with the MIT community, both students and faculty.” In addition, they also consulted with the academic departments, studied recruiting trends on the online job platform Handshake, and looked into employers that have hired MIT students in the past. While they did not receive complaints “regarding the attendance of specific companies,” they are currently “collecting feedback post-fair and will carefully review the results.”
Continuing with the initiatives begun during Virtual Fall Career Fair series in 2021, companies could attach special labels to their booths, which included LGBTQIA+ (LGB+); Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I); and Equal Pay Efforts (EPE); among others.
Some students attending the Career Fair expressed dissatisfaction with the label system, particularly with regards to transgender representation. Viets stated that the fair did not align with “MIT’s supposed commitments to diversity and inclusion” as the acronym for the LGBTQIA+ community was shortened to “LGB+,” excluding the “T” for “transgender.” Viets provided context for this statement, explaining that as a transgender woman, seeing the “T” dropped from the LGB+ label felt “certainly alienating and made me not want to be there.”
Allen responded to a query from The Tech regarding the LGBTQIA+ label shortening, writing that “We used a short LGB+ acronym solely for the purpose of labeling the employers in Handshake, on the fair maps, and in employer lists, as space was limited.” Regarding diversity more broadly, they stated that the CAPD is “passionate about creating equal opportunities for all students.”
Students also expressed their thoughts on the physical arrangement of the booths themselves. For example, Raby stated that popular booths like IBM and Tesla “being placed in the midst of aisles and their traffic clogging them” was not ideal, while acknowledging that Google was appropriately placed at the end of an aisle.
Viets highlighted in particular the MIT Pay Equity Working Group, which “provided information on your rights as an employee asking about and negotiating your salary with a potential employer” and also emphasized how women are underpaid in the workforce. She felt that “the pay equity booth [MIT Pay Equity Working Group] was highly valuable,” and wished it “had been in a more central location.”
Upper-level students responded favorably to the return of the career fair to in-person events. Raby said that “the improvements to personability and responsiveness” have “been sorely missed these past couple of years” compared to having to sit through online queues “only to discover that the only ‘active’ recruiter left to go do something else when it’s your turn.” Yi also felt that the in-person fair “was better” because it was deemed an official student holiday, unlike last year’s Virtual Career Fair.
In addition to the in-person career fair, a virtual counterpart for this year was offered Sept. 28 from 1–5 p.m. According to the organizers, advantages to attending the 2022 Virtual Fall Career Fair include being able to “reserve their spot to talk with employers in advance” and speak to “employers that are a distance away” who otherwise would not attend an in-person fair due to the associated costs of “accommodations and travel.”
Students can send feedback for what they want to see in the future to email@example.com.
Update 10/11/22: A previous version of this article attributed various quotes to Tamara Menghi, senior associate director of the CAPD. The article has been updated ro reflect that the quotes were from Fall Career Fair Chair Ty Allen.