Recruiters from more than 350 companies are headed to Michigan Technological University’s Career Fair this week — resuming an in-person event that fills local restaurants and hotels as well as open positions at their companies.
Career Fair runs from 2-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex. Hundreds of follow-up interviews will take place around campus the following day and virtually afterward. The event is a major factor in Tech’s 93% average job placement rate within six months of graduation. There are no statistics on how many meals and memories will be shared, but it’s safe to say that lodging and dining establishments are rolling out the welcome mat for new and returning visitors.
As of early September, hotels and most other lodging within two hours of the University were nearly fully booked, said Cody Kangas, executive director of corporate and foundation relations and acting director of Michigan Tech Career Services.
Career Services works year-round to help students land co-ops, internships and full-time jobs, offering programs for both Huskies and companies. Students are offered one-on-one training in essential skills. Tech’s biannual Career Fair, held in fall and spring, is where these practice interviews, resume-building sessions and industry outreach culminate in one of the largest events of its kind in the nation.
It’s been two years since students trekked up MacInnes Drive to the Student Development Complex, decked out in their business best, to shake hands with their futures.
“Demand is unprecedented. Employers want to be here — they’re ready to come back,” said Kangas.
Michigan Tech President Rick Koubek said the response reflects Michigan Tech’s excellence in building partnerships and preparing students for the job market.
“A degree from Michigan Tech is highly valued in the marketplace, as evidenced by the large number of employers attending the University’s Career Fair this year,” he said. “It’s this level of corporate engagement that helps differentiate the Michigan Tech student experience. That’s one of the many reasons we are delighted to welcome employers back to campus this week.”
The most recent study of Michigan Tech’s impact on the state and regional economy occurred in 2016. It didn’t take visitor spending into account, but a new online visitor data dashboard developed by the Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau (KCVB) does. Brad Barnett, KCVB executive director, said it’ll be interesting to compare figures for the time period of the in-person Career Fair to the past two years. Statistics are only available for the past three years, and are updated about every three months. In the meantime, he said, the qualitative data is clearly positive.
“Many recruiters are Tech alumni, so Career Fair gives them a chance to return to Houghton to patronize their favorite local restaurants and reminisce about days on campus,” said Barnett. “I know the downtown businesses are happy to see the return of in-person recruiting, along with other University events.”
For recruiters, it’s a welcome trip to campus. For many students, it’s a new opportunity to meet employers face-to-face. Most current Huskies have only experienced the virtual version of Career Fair, a pandemic necessity the past two years. “For the vast majority of students attending Career Fair this week, it’s the first time they’ve been able to participate in person,” said Kangas. “The virtual fairs filled a critical need during what was a very stressful time, but there’s no overstating the importance of being able to meet potential employers face-to-face. It allows for connections and conversations that sometimes aren’t possible online.”
Senior environmental engineering student Katie Peterson has experienced both event formats. Face-to-face wins hands down. “I went to fall Career Fair when I was a freshman,” she said. “A lot of people encouraged going, just to see what it was about. I talked to DTE; the recruiter was really nice. I was invited to a breakfast the next day to find out more about the company.”
Making a first impression via video was more difficult, Peterson said. “Having a physical presence makes a lot of difference.”
Peterson is one of Tech’s career coaches, working with fellow students to help them land co-ops, internships and full-time jobs. In the days leading up to Career Fair, she and other coaches help students polish resumes and interview skills. “A little bit of guidance goes a long way,” she said. “I’m glad we’re here to help.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.