Career center launches additional Fall EOC

For the first time this year an Employment Opportunities Conference (EOC) has been added to the fall career fair line up. Scheduled for Monday, the EOC kicks off four days of career fairs and aims to find employment opportunities for a broader range of students. According to Wahab Owolabi, assistant director of the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) and career consultant, the EOC was advertised to companies as a way to meet “students who are from eclectic backgrounds, technical majors, non-technical majors, just a potpourri of different disciplines — that is what [these companies] are expecting.”

The CPDC decided to open a fall EOC because they saw a need that was not being met by the annual career fairs already being offered. Renée Starek, CPDC assistant director and career consultant, said “The TOC and the BOC have always done a really great job with serving the technical students and the business students, but it really left a lot of populations underserved.”

Based on The Tartan’s own analysis of the companies attending this year’s EOC, of the 79 companies attending 40 did not attend the EOC last spring, nor this week’s BOC/TOC. About half of the companies present would not have had access to CMU students without this new fall EOC.
While the other job fairs might not be as expansive as the EOC, Owolabi wanted to be clear that he “wouldn’t discourage students who aren’t in a technical field from going to the TOC,” and would instead encourage students to pursue relationships with companies they are interested in, even if they are only at the TOC. However, four days of career fairs can be overwhelming for students. Although it is “definitely a jam-packed week, it can get hectic ... it is not something you have to spend a whole day doing. You can work it around your schedule,” Owolabi said.

According to Starek, the reason the career fairs are all so early in the year is in fact determined by the employers. “For these job fairs [that are] happening so early, these companies want to obtain the best and brightest talent early.” Yet piling four days of career fairs into a single week could be a strong concern for some students. Samantha Skinger, the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) current High School Day co-chair and three-year member of its executive board, said “most students can’t take three days.”

This is why, even when the TOC filled all its slots, the organizers decided not to expand to a third day. SWE has run the TOC at Carnegie Mellon for four decades, and some members are concerned about the effects the new fall EOC will have on the TOC. “It was meant to fill a gap the TOC was leaving,” Skinger said, “but from what we are seeing right now ... there are some companies we haven’t traditionally seen at the TOC, but there are some big names that are going to the EOC.” There are 15 companies attending both this week’s EOC and TOC, and nine attending both the BOC and EOC.

Owolabi also pointed out the atypicality of Carnegie Mellon’s career fair model. “It is interesting, not a lot of schools have this model,” Owalabi said, “where we have student organizations running career fairs, and the students do an awesome job.” However, the CPDC maintains direct contact with companies. All postings go through TartanTrak, and the CPDC handles space for interviews and assists the student groups when they need more contacts. For now, the relationship between the student groups and the CPDC remains strong, sharing resources and contacts to support the students without competing for corporate attention.

The TOC filled all its booths again this year, but some SWE members are concerned about what the EOC could mean for the future of the TOC. The EOC charges less for booths, and — with its more general mission — may end up shifting some companies who traditionally attend the TOC to the EOC. Skinger was also concerned that the CPDC may expand the fall EOC, causing “companies to trickle from the TOC into the EOC.” Starek called this a trial year, and said plans for next year have not yet been made.

For student input into the number of days of fairs, the scheduling of fairs in the semester, and other general feedback, the CPDC suggests students go on TartanTrak and review their own job fair experiences on their online surveys.