Opportunities abound: Thousands attend MTU career fair

Michigan Technological University students met with recruiters from more than 370 companies at Wednesday’s fall Career Fair, the first to be in-person since 2019. 

The five-hour fair drew thousands of students to the Student Development Complex. 

“We’ve been open for an hour and 10 minutes, and this is the first time it’s been clear,” said acting Career Services Director Cody Kangas, pointing to the hallway leading to the Multi-Purpose Room. “You’re talking a line that was probably close to a half-mile long.”

The fairs take place each fall and spring. Since fall 2020, those have been held virtually.

The return to in-person after a two-year layoff accounts for part of the high-turnout, Kangas said.

“Having that virtual space filled the need at the time, but you missed that human element,” he said. “You missed that opportunity to look somebody in the eye, shake their hand.”

For this year Tech also implemented a two-hour recess between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. where no classes could be scheduled.

As a STEM-focused university, Tech is well-positioned to graduate students into critical areas of the workforce, Kangas said. Those jobs also correlate with areas where Tech is seeing increased enrollment, such as the College of Computing.

“We’ve got 57 companies that are looking for computer science alone,” he said. 

The connections students make at the fair are just the start. Companies also schedule follow-up interviews with students afterwards. Leading up to the fair, Tech holds five industry days where employers set up on campus and meet with students. There are also 30 to 40 career development events, such as resume reviews. 

“We did everything we could to try to get our students ready because 80% of our campus hasn’t attended an in-person career fair,” Kangas said. 

Phil Curd, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Tech, was looking for an internship or full-time job in materials.

“There’s been a couple of companies here that are doing carbon-based materials, superconductors, that kind of thing, and I’m interested in that,” he said.  

He’d talked with several companies, including Polaris, Toro, Milwaukee Tool and Hemlock Semiconductor.

“They’re interviewing me as much as I’m interviewing them,” he said. “I’m for that connectivity, I’m looking for if they’ll want me, I’m looking for the opportunity for growth.”

It was Curd’s first time at the career fair. He came away with a positive impression. 

“It’s well-organized, and the companies that are here seem like they genuinely want to be here,” he said.