Lessons Learned at the Tech Expo Career Fair

Two Northwestern MSIT students reflect on the Engineering Career Development's recent recruitment event.

Students in Northwestern University's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) recently learned about potential internship and full-time employment opportunities at the 2019 McCormick School of Engineering's Tech Expo Career Fair.

The fair was held at Evanston's Hilton Orrington Hotel.

Current MSIT full-time students Siddharth Bhola and Rekha Goverthanam took time after the event to talk about why they attended, what their goals were and what they learned from the experience.

How would you describe your overall experience at the Tech EXPO CAREER Fair?

SB: I found the job fair to be a very positive experience and extremely useful. I got a chance to interact with recruiters from top tech companies and pitch myself before them. Events like these are important as they provide us with direct opportunities with top companies in our field of interest and have a high conversion rate.

RG: In short, simply amazing! It was a much-anticipated event that lived up to the expectation. Organizers provided a well-planned shuttle service from campus that helped students overcome a cold day with ease. The brochure had employers grouped by category and made looking up companies easy. All these combined to offer a great overall experience.

What were your goals heading into the fair?

SB: My primary motivation to attend this job fair was to explore internship opportunities with tech companies for summer 2019. This was also an opportunity for me to network with tech recruiters and gauge the current market needs for IT professionals.

RG: I wanted to learn about cutting-edge opportunities that are available for interns in the job market. I also wanted to connect with like-minded students and grow my network with potential employers so that I could follow up later.

How did you prepare for the JOB fair?

SB: I got my resume reviewed from the Engineering Career Development's (ECD) career advisor during their express walk-in hours. They are very professional and helped me to polish my resume. As I had some targeted companies in mind, I did some research about their domain, products and job requirements. Keeping this in mind, I prepared my elevator speech and talking points that would essentially show my interest and fit with them.

RG: I had my resume and LinkedIn profile updated. I shortlisted and prioritized companies that aligned with my interest. I had also prepared a 2-3 minute pitch in order to make a lasting impression with potential employers.

What did you learn — either about specific companies, particular industries or yourself — by going to the JOB fair?

SB: This fair was a great learning experience for me. I got to know about different products, technologies, and roles for which the tech companies were hiring. More importantly, I got a chance to practice interacting with employers and networking with them for future opportunities.

RG: Talking to professionals helped me learn that data visualization is a skill that I could add to my arsenal to strengthen my profile.

What are your professional goals after MSIT?

SB: My professional goal after MSIT is to become an IT innovator and leader in the tech industry. With the technical and business skills that I gain from this program, I aim to lead highly productive and innovative technology teams.

RG: I believed my course experiences would help me take my career forward as a data scientist or data engineer.

How do you think your time in MSIT has helped you get closer to those professional goals?

SB: The best part about the MSIT curriculum is that we can mold it according to our interests. The technical courses have provided me with an in-depth understanding and hands-on experience in the latest technical areas like machine learning, natural language processing, statistical data mining, etc. These courses have provided me with a solid technical skill set that will come in handy when I get back to the industry. The business-focused courses like Financial Management for IT Professionals and Marketing Strategy and Analysis have provided me with a business mindset that will allow me to lead product teams while keeping in mind the business' growth.

RG: In MSIT, I have opted to take cutting-edge technical courses in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science like Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, along with business related courses like Marketing Strategy and Analysis that provide me a holistic understanding of the IT industry. The MSIT program's cohort model enrolls a rich mix of professional backgrounds that allow us to actively collaborate and learn from one another.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SB: All in all, I would recommend that all graduate students attend the career fairs organized by the ECD and Career Advancement departments at Northwestern University. They are events where we can learn about companies, pitch ourselves, network, and come to better understand the market needs — all things that give us an advantage over students from other universities.

RG: It was reassuring to see MSIT alumni at the job fair who got their offers by utilizing previous career fairs, and that these alumni were now the ones representing their employers.