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Iowa State engineering students attend the Fall 2020 Engineering Career Fair to hunt for jobs, internships and co-ops.

In a virtual setting, students explored career and networking opportunities with over 400 companies at the Fall 2020 Engineering Career Fair. 

The career fair was active online through CyHire from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was designed with engineering students in mind. 

Jon McCallum, a freshman in mechanical engineering, explained he was nervous about the fair, but he didn’t need to be. 

"[The companies] asked about what I was interested in, and they gave me some information about what their company did," McCallum said. "They were willing to work with me on figuring out what I should do or what I would be good at in their company."  

Kate Cossa, program coordinator for the Engineering Career Services, said how important preparation is in a virtual setting. McCallum said he felt prepared after going through the module on Canvas. 

Mackenzie Donald, a sophomore in chemical engineering, said she also felt prepared. She said she thought her classes were the most helpful in getting ready to speak with companies, and the career fair was less intimidating because it was online. 

"It’s nice that you are one-on-one. At first, it’s a little scary, but it’s nice that you can’t be distracted by others, and the company is focused completely on you," she said. 

Tanner Boes, senior in industrial engineering, echoed Donald’s statement. 

"I like how you’re just talking one-on-one [with the company] without any distractions or anything going on in the background," Boes said.  

All three students said they enjoyed that they could wait in multiple lines at the same time.

As with any virtual event, there were a few technical problems. McCallum explained that he had some difficulty with the video aspect in his first meeting. 

"I prefer meeting face-to-face with people anyway because you can read their body language," McCallum said. 

He is looking forward to an in-person career fair in the future, as is Donald. 

Even with a few technical difficulties, Cossa reported that there have been over 15,000 connections made between students and companies.

"It’s important for students to take advantage of on-campus opportunities, even if they are virtual, as employers are specifically looking for Iowa State engineers," Cossa said in an email. "Networking through the career fair is one of the best ways to connect with many companies at one time. Additionally, having conversations with recruiters instead of just filling out an online job application typically leads to more successful results."

Boes said he thought the career fair was a good use of his time, and he recommends engineering students attend the fair. 

"It’s a good opportunity to be able to network with people and put some names and faces to each company," Boes said. "Being able to make that first impression and connection on a company is still pretty valuable."  

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