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Fall Career Connection largest in five years

Gary Poelma and a Career Connection participant

In addition to meeting candidates for permanent jobs, recruiters on campus for Career Connection also sought students for internship or co-op positions. Gary Poelma (BSEM '91) says his company, Cirrus Design Corp., which manufactures advanced, FAA-certified small aircraft, was looking for about a dozen interns to work in various aspects of the operation.

After years of doodling pictures of airplanes in their college notebooks, says Poelma, brothers Alan and Dale Klapmeier founded the company in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in 1994. Today, it employs about 1,100 in its state-of-the art facility in Duluth, Minnesota and will build about 800 planes this year. view
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Hundreds of students began their day Sept. 13 with a stroll through the Engineering Centers Building, where the college's fall Career Connection was in full swing. Three days later, many of those students left with interview commitments for internships, co-ops and professional positions; contacts in industry, and, at the very least, backpacks full of recruiting giveaways like miniature calculators, CD holders and even food-storage containers.

Held in fall and again in spring, Career Connection is open to all UW-Madison students. This year, more than 200 employers attended, making the event the largest in five years, says Assistant Dean of Career Services Sandy Arnn.

Throughout the week, corporate and governmental representatives conducted about 500 interviews, and recruiters look forward to the chance to speak with UW-Madison students, says Arnn. "We have had outstanding feedback on the academic preparation and achievements of our candidates coming through the fair, as well as many compliments on the preparation of our students for the job search," she says.

At this Career Connection, opportunities abounded for engineering, physics, computer sciences, chemistry and some biological sciences students, she says. Major national research laboratories, including Sandia, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, Idaho, and MIT Lincoln, came looking for advanced degree-holders. In general, says Arnn, there was an increase in PhD-level recruiting. "Thirty-five PhD-level recruiters joined 70 doctoral candidates at a first-time event reception in Engineering Career Services on Tuesday (Sept. 13) evening," says Arnn. "It enhanced their ability to get directly to the candidates they were seeking to hire, to keep their organizations competitive in a very intense global marketplace."

And after several slow hiring years, a stronger economy is again enabling students to weigh multiple job offers, says Arnn. "It's definitely a more competitive marketplace," she says. "Employers have commented that they will need to work harder to hire our best students this year."

Civil engineers, she says, continue to be heavily recruited. And after suffering hiring setbacks due to the recession, computer companies, including Cisco, IBM, Intel, HP, AMD, Hutchinson Technology, Microsoft, Orbitz and Micron, were looking aggressively for software and hardware employees. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is seeking 1,000 engineers this year, and large government contracts at companies such as Lockheed Martin yielded many job opportunities for engineers. Tables hosted by Teach for American and the Peace Corps also saw heavy student traffic. "Employers highly value such volunteer experiences," says Arnn.

Overall, a strong contingent of small Midwest as well as Fortune 100 companies to the annual fall recruitment event provided students with a diverse set of job opportunity and location choices for their career "lift-off," she says. "An education in the College of Engineering prepares students to choose challenging opportunities throughout the country and across the globeā€“or right in their own back yards," says Arnn.