Companies lure prospective

Jake Kapsner

Well-dressed and with rÇsumÇs in hand, at least 2,000 job-savvy University students and alumni swarmed the Great Hall in Coffman Union on Wednesday and Thursday for the annual Institute of Technology Career Fair.
Representatives from 130 companies came to the University to scout IT students skilled in every imaginable engineering field, and other genres like chemistry, math and geophysics, said Andre Benassi, president of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical engineering honor society.
“The companies seem really excited,” said Reid Welch, an event volunteer and job-seeker. “They literally grab you out of the aisle and pull you in.”
Event sponsors Eta Kappa Nu and the Society of Women Engineers started the event about 20 years ago with only 10 companies present, Benassi said.
Now they have more requests than room.
The sponsors restricted companies to one day at the two-day event because so many asked for a table, said society member Hae young Kim.
Benassi noted that the demand for engineers has grown with the technology boom of the past decade.
Big names like Microsoft, Intel, Exxon, Motorola and General Motors sought college recruits, along with local industries such as Northern States Power Co. and Rosemount Inc.
“It’s a very efficient process,” said Ron Matlock of Eaton, a Cleveland-based manufacturer. “We can come in here and interview 300 people in one day. Where else can you do that?”
The 50,000-employee company has 500 openings across the board right now, and 95 percent are in engineering fields, Matlock said.
“Minnesota is our prime target,” he said, noting that Eaton primarily headhunts in Big Ten territory. “It’s one of 15 universities we focus on.”
Amber Christenson, Career Fair director for the society, said more IT graduates find jobs through the fair than through their own searches.
Like Eaton, Electronic Data Systems will follow up the day’s prescreening process with later interviews, said spokesman John Evanstad. For now, they’re just trying to get the word out.
As some students screened businesses with questions on location and profile, others asked if benefits like graduate school tuition came with the job.
Senia Tuominen, a junior in mechanical engineering, targeted specific companies and said she plans on landing an internship out of the fair.
Kicking off a season of similar events at University colleges, the career fair was the year’s first event linking students and companies and the biggest of the quarterly IT job fairs, Benassi said.