MIT holds Fall Career Fair

CAPD tried to focus on first-year engagement, expanding opportunities for non-Computer Science majors, and sustainability

The 2023 Fall Career Fair was held in the Johnson Athletic Center on Sept. 22. The event was the second in-person career fair post-pandemic, following remote fairs held during the pandemic and in 2021.  The Career Advising & Professional Development (CAPD) office organized the event — the largest annual recruiting event at MIT — to support undergraduates, master’s students, PhDs, postdocs, and recent alumni in their professional pursuits. Harvard students were also welcome to attend. 

Around 4044 people attended the fair, with lectures and recitations canceled to encourage attendance. Freshmen, the undergraduate group with the largest attendance (803 freshmen attended) were granted entry an hour early, allowing them the opportunity to speak with the over 209 company representatives present. 

Companies represented include some of the largest technology companies — TikTok, Tesla, and Google for instance — and government agencies, ranging from the CIA and Department of Defense to the Texas Department of Transportation. Startups were also well represented, especially in the artificial intelligence and tech sector, from EliseAI to Imbue. MIT programs and offices such as MIT Global Experiences (MISTI) and the Priscilla King Gray (PKG) Public Service Center also set up stalls at the career fair. Many of the company booths were staffed by former MIT students.

In an email to The Tech, Tamara Raimundi Menghi of the CAPD office noted that the main goals of the career fair were to allow students to network with “as many employers as possible” and to “generate revenue to support career exploration opportunities.” Menghi also noted that this year, the office collaborated with Harvard and other area schools to “include opportunities in engineering that are not just computer science focused.”

Despite this, students found themselves discontent with options. Finance majors Evelyn Peters ’24 said, “if [the employers] talk to you and if they find that you are not a computer science major, they are surprised.” Serena Cao ’26 said “I appreciate them for giving me the opportunity to meet the companies but it’s never really been a place where you can find a job. The fair is moreso for the exposure to employers and companies.” 

Students observed other difficulties as well; Peters said that “recruiting for full time opportunities was hard since they are really geared towards juniors and junior internships.” Cao acknowledged that these issues were more widespread, and applicable to career fairs in general: “it is difficult to hold career fairs anywhere, but they did their best.”

The CAPD also focused on first-year engagement: they granted freshmen early access not only to “familiarize themselves with the Fall Career Fair” but also to “open employer minds to hiring MIT students as early as the first year.” First years were provided with a list of “first year friendly” (FYF) companies- companies interested in engaging with first years — and a list of “first year friendly plus” (FYF+) companies — companies with opportunities for first years, whether internships or exploratory programs.

Kareena Shah ’27 felt that “most employers were willing to talk and were ok with freshmen applying,” while stating that she didn’t actually find any internships “geared toward freshmen.” Shravika Pendyala ’27 concurred, finding herself turned down by most employers, who “were only looking for sophomores and juniors.”

Students generally praised the logistics; Jolie Kim ‘25 noted that “they did a really good job of organizing it logistically, including the setup and arrangement.” Rachel Nguyen ‘27 shared that “Since I’m interested in biomedical sciences, I went to the Johnson Center, and I could easily find all the biomedical company booths.” May Zou ’27 said, “It was convenient to have similar types of companies grouped together in the same place because I didn’t need to go all over the place to find the ones related to the major I’m interested in.” She did add that “it was very crowded, which made it difficult to find some of the booths.” 

In addition to first-year engagement and providing opportunities beyond computer science, the CAPD took initiatives to ensure sustainability.

The office collaborated closely with the Environmental Solutions Initiative to evaluate whether employers had “sustainable practices.” 

The office also tried to emphasize inclusion, starting a student advisory board this year. Vicki Carrica ’27 felt that the companies “seemed pretty diverse.” Mariya Al-Hinai ’26 pointed out that inclusion for international students was still an issue, stating that “it was hard to talk to employers about jobs and internships since a lot of them required US citizenship.”

An upcoming virtual career fair will be held Oct. 13 from 1-4PM. Companies in sectors ranging from Computer Science and Hardware to Healthcare and Energy as well as government agencies such as NASA and the US Air Force will be present. Students are able to register for individual 10 minute chats and 30 minute group sessions with top employers of their interest. They are “highly encouraged to sign up for the individual sessions in advance to start getting helpful information from the employer.”