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Students, alumni and employers connect at career fair

Recruiters at Career Connection set up booths on three levels of the Engineering Centers Building. Photo by Andrea Parins.
Recruiters at Career Connection set up booths on three levels of the Engineering Centers Building. Photo by Andrea Parins.

“You have no idea how much less pressure it is to be a recruiter, compared to a student,” says Lauren Wenzel, a 2008 engineering alumna and a recruiter for Cooper Industries. “It’s just a lot easier.”

Wenzel was just one of many recent alumni recruiting at the 2010 Fall Career Connection, held September 15-16 in the Engineering Centers Building. “We definitely saw an increase in the number of employers and recruiters from the fair last year,” says Assistant Director of Engineering Career Services Kathy Prem. “Things are looking up.”

At the event, thousands of University of Wisconsin-Madison students from engineering and other majors met with recruiters looking to fill intern, co-op and professional positions. This major campus career fair included more than 220 companies ranging from national corporations such as 3M and Hewlett Packard to Wisconsin-based businesses such as Kimberly Clark and Rayovac/Remington.

Recruiters like Wenzel emphasized the need for not only a strong resume but also good speaking skills. “Being able to hold a conversation and work with others is something we look for at our recruiting fairs,” explains Wenzel. “Someone who is confident and prepared is definitely what we want.”

Mark Misun, a 2010 civil engineering alumnus and recruiter for MSA Professional Services, echoed Wenzel’s sentiments. “You have to be tenacious when attending these big career fairs,” says Wenzel. “Take all the interviews you can, because the experience will pay off in the end.”

Nick Hertog, a sophomore chemical and biological engineering major, was taking this advice to heart. “I’m not really looking for a job or internship just yet, but I think it is good to see what is available,” says Hertog. “If I get comfortable talking to recruiters this year, I’ll be ready to come back next year when I know exactly what I want to do.”

Hertog appreciated the number of different companies present at the fair from all regions of the country. “I’m still kind of undecided, so it is nice to see a lot of different career opportunities in one day,” says Hertog. “I’m not sure if I’ll stay in the Midwest or go farther away, so I like getting the chance to talk to people from different places.”

Not all students shared Hertog’s desire to leave the comforts of Wisconsin. Matt Willer, a senior computer sciences major, was looking into Wisconsin-based companies. “There are a lot of places in the area that are hiring, and I’m looking to get a job somewhere close,” says Willer. “I’m glad I came to Career Connection because it is showing me jobs I wouldn’t have found in other places.”

Students looking to stay in the Midwest had an easy time finding local opportunities. Madison-area companies such as Epic, PPD and Madison Gas and Electric were on hand and meeting with students. “The positions we offer are very applicable to UW students because they are related to this area of the country,” explains MSA recruiter and Wisconsin School of Business alumna Beth Munz.

Both Wenzel and Misun found their current jobs through Engineering Career Services and Career Connection fairs in past years. “Our company continues to recruit from UW because the program consistently delivers great employees,” says Wenzel. “Everyone knows you’re going to get a good candidate if they come out of Madison.”

As the event wound down and recruiters started to pack up their presentations, a few students continued to mill around the area. “It’s good to see all these people trying to get jobs right away,” says Misun. “But trust me, they’ll like it a lot better once they’re on this side of the table.”

Kelsey Davison