Several University of Arizona engineering students landed job interviews after pitching their coding capabilities and other technology skills and passing on their résumés to nearly 50 recruiters at the iExpo Industry Career Fair on campus Feb. 15, 2018.
But it was not just the students’ know-how and academic achievements that impressed employers at iExpo, the largest student-run engineering job fair in Arizona.
“We already know the caliber of students coming out of the University of Arizona,” said Raytheon senior engineering manager Darcie Volk, who has a bachelor’s in chemistry and a master’s in materials science and engineering from the UA.
“We’re obviously looking for someone with a solid educational foundation and a good GPA, but it’s not just about that. It’s about being well-rounded, being able to communicate, having some leadership experience -- the soft skills. I can teach anybody with a good foundation what we do at Raytheon. What I can’t teach them is how to interact positively with others.”
Microchip Technologies recruiter Alex Smith-Torres, another UA Engineering alum, appreciated the solid research and work experience of two graduate students he met. But what really struck him, he said, “was their communications skills and the way they carried themselves -- which is honestly what we’re looking for most of all.”
Ana Llano, a UA sophomore majoring in systems engineering, scheduled a summer internship interview with Honeywell recruiter and UA Engineering alumna Julie Riccitello for the day after iExpo.
“I enjoyed getting to know more about Honeywell and other companies, and about all the different industries I can work in as a systems engineer,” Llano said.
Another sophomore, chemical engineering major and Honors College student Makena Smith, lined up an interview for a summer internship with Texas-based concrete supplier Lehigh Hanson.
“At iExpo it was easy to talk to a large number of companies in a smaller environment than the UA’s all-major career fair,” she said.
Great Turnout, Great Cause
More than 700 students attended the 26th annual iExpo in a packed ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center. Employers included local startups and multinational corporations, utilities, federal research labs and others advertising hundreds of internships, co-ops and full-time engineering positions. Job descriptions ranged from reclaiming water from underground mines to writing software for operating satellites. Job sites extended from Tucson, Arizona, to Shenzhen, China.
Nearly 50 employers participated this year. That number might have been higher.
“We had to turn some last-minute applicants away for lack of space,” said Keara Burke, a junior in systems engineering and mathematics and Honors College student who coordinated iExpo as director of corporate relations for the Engineering Student Council.
“Over a year of planning has gone into this day,” Burke said.
The student organizers raised over $25,000 from fees charged to participating employers to support the College of Engineering’s more than 40 student clubs and organizations.
Electrical and computer engineering major Axton Oliva attended iExpo for the networking and advice.
“What I took away from the fair were clues to what traits the companies are strongly looking for and to stay well rounded with every skill I have obtained,” said Oliva, a transfer student from Pima Community College. “The networking experience is important, because even if you didn’t get the internship you were looking for with one employer, you’re more prepared for next semester, or even for any other companies you apply to today.”
Several first-year engineering students in the recently formed Freshman Engineering Council contributed to iExpo’s success by assisting with promotions and staffing registration tables. In the process, they got to interact with employers.
Freshman Christian Tagle asked employers about what mechanical engineers do on a day-to-day basis and got tips about what to include on his résumé. His classmate Erik Strukmeyer gained practice giving an elevator speech.
iExpo 2018 was sponsored by L3 Aviation Products and ACSS, Sandia National Laboratories, W.L. Gore & Associates, FAST Enterprises, USAEPG, NXP Semiconductors, Sargent Aerospace & Defense and Raytheon.