March 2, 2015
Business is Brisk for Students Visiting Recruiters at Career Expo
Feb. 12, 2014
Zachary Cathcart, a mechanical engineering senior, talks to a Raytheon recruiter at Career Expo Days. “Raytheon's a large company, so they always have openings. I'll definitely be following up,” Cathcart said.
Mechanical engineering senior Zachary Cathcart arrived at the Activity Center on Feb. 7 a good 30 minutes before doors opened for the spring Career Expo Days.
The line of UT Dallas students and alumni seeking jobs or internships in the STEM fields was already four rows deep.
Cathcart was undeterred. He had already outlined his strategy, noting the layout of the room on a map and circling the locations of corporations’ booths that were his top choices.
“As long as you’re in line when the doors open, you’ll be fine,” Cathcart said.
The Career Center hosts the spring and fall expos to help students connect with more than 200 employers from corporations, small businesses, school districts, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.
This time of year, it gets serious for about-to-graduate seniors. The expo attracted 2,502 attendees over its two days.
Cathcart had copies of his résumé in hand and planned to visit first with technology firms that listed an interest in individuals with mechanical engineering degrees.
“I’m hoping for a job, so it’s very important that I do this,” he said.
At 11 a.m. sharp, he entered the expo room and headed straight for the Raytheon Company booth. He was 11th in line to speak with recruiters; the line soon grew to dozens of students.
Mechanical engineering senior Shanoya Taylor talked to Nancy Canales, a human resources generalist and recruiter with Atmos Energy.
While he waited in line, a Raytheon volunteer snapped a photo of his résumé with an iPad to keep on file.
Cathcart’s resume is pretty solid for someone still in college. Two internships — one at a UT Dallas research lab and one at an area plastics firm — give Cathcart some much sought-after experience even before he leaves campus.
Eva Baker, a Raytheon electrical engineer and recruiter, noted his impending graduation date and his “great GPA.” Baker showed Cathcart several mechanical engineering positions on the company’s website and encouraged him to apply online.
“I feel good,” he said afterward. “They listened to me. Raytheon’s a large company, so they always have openings. I’ll definitely be following up.”
Cathcart then walked over to the Train Dynamic Systems booth, where recruiter Robert King noted several positives on his résumé.
“You’re an Eagle Scout! That’s always good to see,” King said. “And you’ve done some programming as well.”
Griffin Taylor, an electrical engineering senior, was among the more than 1,500 STEM majors attending the Career Expo Days fair.
Meanwhile, Shanoya Taylor, another UT Dallas mechanical engineering senior, visited with Nancy Canales, a human resources generalist and recruiter for Atmos Energy, who complimented the UT Dallas student on her enthusiasm and smile.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” Canales told Taylor, who had asked for job search advice. “Your smile is a huge factor. It even made me feel good.”
“Does Atmos hire new college graduates?” Taylor asked.
Canales said Atmos is especially focused right now on getting new graduates into the workforce to learn from engineers who are about to retire.
“We will partner you with an engineer who will show you the ropes. It’s very collaborative,” Canales told Taylor.
Students like Taylor and Cathcart who attend the expo get personal attention from corporate representatives that can help guide their career moves, said Lisa Garza, director of the Career Center.
“The expos give students a chance to ask questions and better determine their fit for a particular company,” Garza said.
Taylor agreed, saying the recruiters she spoke with left her feeling encouraged.
“It was pretty optimistic,” Taylor said. “It was tempting to stay at home, especially with the cold weather today, and just apply online in my PJs. But I knew I would have regretted not doing this.”
The expos are open to currently enrolled students and alumni who have earned degrees from UT Dallas. For upcoming spring expos, visit the Career Center webpage.