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Stephanie Dandt, Melvyn Stewart, and Richard Schreck at Industry Day 2005

Students and alumni connect at SWE’s Industry Day

More than 700 students hoped to find the right connection to their dream job or internship at the Society of Women Engineer’s annual Industry Day last October. A McCormick tradition for more than 30 years, Industry Day connects students with representatives from 60 companies, including many Northwestern and McCormick alumni.

Industry Day is the largest student-run career fair on campus, rivaling Northwestern’s all-campus career fair as one of the largest recruiting events of the year. More than 50 members of SWE organize all aspects of the event, including inviting and organizing the attending corporations and promoting the event on campus. SWE even designates a student host to assist the companies as they set up and tear down their booths. Representatives from companies join SWE members for dinner before the event, giving students high-quality time
with prospective employers.

The high turnout can be attributed to the months of work that SWE puts into planning the event, making it one of SWE’s biggest activities. “We start sending out letters in June, and by the start of school we’re going full throttle,” says Nina Bhatti, program director for SWE. “We wanted to include students outside of McCormick, so we targeted a wide variety of students this year.”

From an employer’s perspective, SWE does a good job of running the show. “It’s smooth and professional and doesn’t require a lot of extra time from us,” says Richard Schreck, General Motors’ liaison to Northwestern. “It gives us an opportunity to see a large number and variety of students. I had three representatives there who talked to students for three straight hours.”

In addition to the actual event, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers have joined forces in recent years to increase the amount of programming surrounding Industry Day. Their groups cosponsor Industry Week, composed of events that prepare students to make the most of Industry Day. This year’s events included seminars on résumé preparation and financial planning.

“In recent years Industry Week has been a good example of McCormick’s student groups coming together to offer something to the student population,” says Ellen Worsdall, assistant dean for undergraduate education. “It’s a great way for students to kick-start their job search and get experience in front of recruiters.”

One thing is certain — when it comes to finding qualified engineers, companies look to McCormick. Priya Alexander, a former SWE member who attended the event to recruit for Eaton Corporation’s leadership development program, says that the company appreciates McCormick students “because Northwestern is an engineering school that focuses on teams and people, involving other people in every aspect of
a project.”

KaNeeTa Kimble, a McCormick graduate working for Procter & Gamble, agrees. “P & G decides what schools produce the best engineers. They’ve come to the conclusion that Northwestern is one of those schools, not just in terms of book smarts and technical knowledge but well-rounded students.”

For nearly 50 alumni like Schreck, Alexander, and Kimble, Industry Day was also a chance to reconnect with their alma mater as recruiters. “You get to see what things are the same with McCormick but also how things are changing,” Kimble says. “It’s fun to see how the school is evolving.”