|A student-run job fair at UC San Diego attracted 70 high-tech and life science companies who are looking for bright, young engineers to fill full-time positions as well as internships. About 1,500 students attended the Feb. 20 event.|
San Diego, CA, March 6, 2009 -- Despite a sluggish economy, more than 70 high tech and life science firms participated in the Disciplines in Engineering Career Fair (DECaF) on February 20 at the University of California, San Diego. The robust turnout is a sign that young engineers are in demand, said Katherine Lee, DECaF chair and a third-year bioengineering student in the Jacobs School of Engineering. The one-day job fair attracted 1,500 engineering students.
“Companies are interested in hiring college students,” Lee said. “We’re young and freshly excited with new ideas and we’re enthusiastic. That’s a product companies like to invest in.”
Recruiters were out in full force during DECaF, interviewing students and taking resumes for internships and full-time jobs. One of them was Jamil Nimeh, a software engineer for ViaSat, a DECaF corporate sponsor.
“We’re in an economic downswing right now but those things don’t stay around forever,” said Nimeh, a UC San Diego alumnus. “Companies have to be ready and poised to grab the next generation of engineers that come in because when the upswing happens you don’t want to play catch up; you want to have a core group of bright, upcoming, hungry engineers who are going to help your company develop the next round of products and be ready to handle the next round of contracts that come in.”
Nimeh said events like DECaF also give employers an inside look at today’s engineering education and what students are being taught. He said ViaSat is looking for new graduates for full-time positions, as well undergrads for internships. Other DECaF corporate sponsors included BD Biosciences, SAIC, Qualcomm, the U.S. Navy and Cymer, Inc.
Over at the Edwards Life Sciences booth at DECaF, Tori Brent, the company’s university relations supervisor, was interviewing several students.
“The students here have been very impressive and concise with what they are looking for,” Brent said.
She said Edwards Life Sciences has some job openings, but is focusing mainly on growing its internship program. She said DECaF is the perfect venue to fill those internship slots.
“Edwards is really fortunate because our executives invest in growing our pipeline, so we have a strong intern network; we don’t want to cut that from our budget,” Brent said. “We are not impacted by the economic times right now with our recruiting efforts. …Science doesn’t stop just because the economy is tough. We’re investing about 10 percent of our profits in R&D so we are trying to stay ahead of a curve. This year is a very big year for us, and 2010 is expected to be a big year for us, so we’re growing our professional level (positions) as well as searching for university talent.”
Jacobs School bioengineering undergrad Natasha Thomas had her resume in hand while waiting in line to talk to an Edwards recruiter. Thomas, who plans to apply for medical school next year, is looking for a summer internship.
“I was slightly worried because I’ve been hearing about layoffs,” Thomas said. “But the fact that the room is full of companies gives me hope.”
Aaron Schwartz, a computer science undergrad, was also encouraged by the number of companies attending the job fair. Schwartz, who is looking for an internship with a software applications company, said internships allow students to get their foot in the door for possible future employment. “Internships allow you to polish your skills in a real life environment,” he said.
Another company looking for talented engineers was Lockheed Martin. “I’ve been coming to DECaF for three years and these students do a great job,” said Raj Deep, a research scientist for Lockheed Martin and a UC San Diego mechanical and aerospace engineering alumnus. “We want to hire young, smart and talented engineers. Our company is relying on the technology and the talent these engineers bring. We do a lot of work for the Department of Defense. We plan on hiring a lot of good people to create good technologies for the soldier. We want to come back every year and hire the best.”