It was 11 a.m., only one hour into the Oct. 17 STEM Career Fair, and the event was in full swing. Well-dressed (mostly) Anteaters clutched resumes and maps of exhibitors as they navigated the labyrinth of tables and long lines of peers inside the UCI Student Center’s Pacific Ballroom, Emerald Bay, Moss Cove and Woods Cove conference rooms.
With 124 companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations offering a buffet of internships and part-time and full-time positions, the 3,000-plus ambitious attendees could find or learn about work in just about every niche of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
But students weren’t the only ones benefiting from the STEM Career Fair, which is hosted twice a year by the Division of Career Pathways. Recruiters from Northrop Grumman, Southern California Edison, Edwards Lifesciences, Chevron, Fluor, Ingram Micro, Oracle, PIMCO, Western Digital, Garmin and other well-known employers, as well as numerous startups, were seeking promising candidates among the wide diversity of talent at UCI.
Fourth-year mechanical engineering major George Ahl hopes to land a job in aerospace engineering, specializing in large-scale engine design. With a GPA of almost 3.9 and a lead role in the UCI Rocket Project, he is optimistic about his prospects. At the fair, Ahl received some reassurance from a company he had applied to earlier this year. The recruiter was surprised to hear that he hadn’t been contacted. “You should’ve gotten an interview,” he told Ahl. “Your resume is strong.”
Zoe Shim, who in September earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, reports: “After talking with people from some of the companies I was interested in, I found out that they were not actively recruiting for the area I was looking for. On the other hand, I found some other companies I liked that I didn’t know about before.”
For Seth Dalmas, a fifth-year student finishing up bachelor’s degrees in both civil engineering and German, the fair proved especially fruitful. Recruiters were intrigued by his dual STEM-humanities skills, and he secured two interviews for the following weeks.
But perhaps his biggest advantage was that he already had 18 months’ experience working for VCC, a general contracting/construction management firm that was also at the event. Dalmas had obtained the internship through the STEM Career Fair two years ago.
“These fairs feature really amazing companies,” he says. “Both times I attended, I talked to the people behind them, and I think this face-to-face interaction has been instrumental to my success in getting my internship and, hopefully, my career.”