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Fall Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair Features New Location, Record Number of Employers

September 18, 2018

On September 25, from 12 to 4 p.m., a record-number 142 employers will interview engineering and computer science students of all years and majors in the Bill Gatton Student Center ballroom.

By Juliana Palomino

Inside the James and Gay Hardymon Center for Student Success, a small team is working around the clock to pull off one of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering’s biggest events—the annual fall Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair.

Ilka Balk, the director of Engineering Career Development in the UK College of Engineering, has been working since the 2018 spring career fair to plan every logistical detail of this fall’s event. On September 25, from 12 to 4 p.m., a flood of employers will fill the Bill Gatton Student Center ballroom, and she wants to be ready.

“The planning never really ends,” she says. “Employers contact us throughout the year, and we also work with regular employers that come each year. We focus on interaction and personal appeals with each of the companies.”

And that’s no small task. This year, due to increased space in the new location, 142 employers from across the nation will visit UK’s campus. Twenty-five of those employers have never attended the event, and ExxonMobil will return for the first time since 1992. John Beck, the assistant director of Career Development, is excited about several improvements that will help students navigate the variety.

“The Career Fair Plus App allows students to research potential employers beforehand by viewing company history, desired majors and offered positions, and much more. On the day of, they can use the fair map and skip-the-line feature to make their time more efficient,” says Beck.

Also new this year are the lanyards—color-coded by major—that all attending students will wear. The Society of Women Engineers student organization, who officially hosts the event, will distribute the lanyards and provide essential logistical support such as checking in employers, set-up and tear-down. 

“They are tremendous in this effort,” says Balk. “We could never make this enormous event happen without their help, or without the support of the college faculty and staff.”

Extra help is also necessary since the event goes well beyond only those four hours. Around 35 employers will hold follow-up interviews, and eight employers will offer specialized information session for interested students.

“In these sessions companies talk about their background and missions. This is invaluable information for students interviewing with them,” Beck says. “And they even provide a free dinner. Why wouldn’t you go?”

Even for first-year students not yet looking for that full-time position, the career fair is a beneficial investment. Balk and Beck encourage freshmen to approach UK alumni at the fair and ask about their engineering journeys.

“When I was in college, I didn’t know at all what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. Nothing could be more helpful than hearing from alumni about their journeys,” says Balk. “And they will remember you. When you come back the next year, you’ll already have a connection.”

No matter what point you’re in your engineering career, the Gatton Student Center ballroom on September 25 is the place to be.

“Students need to broaden their horizons, to realize all of the different things that they could do with their degrees,” says Beck. “The career fair helps students see how many opportunities there really are.”