Pittsburgh, PA,
16:45 PM

Reverse-Engineering the Traditional College Career Fair

ECE Students Host a “Reverse Career Fair” to Showcase Lab Work, Curricula and Demonstrations

Despite bone-chilling temperatures and a snowstorm, students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh held their first ECE Discovery Day in late January. 

“Several students reached out and said they were disappointed with the lack of opportunities at career fairs for ECE students,” said Keshav Shankar, a junior studying computer engineering. 

Shankar found that at prior career fairs, even if companies were hiring, they weren’t targeting ECE students and would focus on other areas of engineering. 

“A regular career fair would only replicate those issues. We needed to think of a unique way to show what we’re capable of.” 

Shankar, along with fellow student organizer and senior computer engineering student, Mikayla Bernhard, instead developed a “reverse career fair.” Rather than having students hopping from table to table, industry professionals would visit each student-centered station. With the help of Assistant Professor Rajkumar Kubendran, Shankar and Bernhard combined the new idea of Discovery Day with Kubendran’s first-year showcase so undecided engineering students could see what opportunities the department offers as well.

Along with the Office of Experiential Learning and Professional Engagement, Associate Professor Samuel Dickerson’s roles as Vice Chair for Education and Director of the Computer Engineering Undergraduate Program gave him a unique perspective assisting Shankar and Bernhard in planning the event. Presenting undergraduate students showed their capabilities and helped prove their personal belief that theirs should be considered among the best ECE programs in the country.

“We’re able to do a little bit of everything between software and electrical engineering,” Bernhard said. “But I’ve had a lot of employers tell me they’re not sure what to do with us. So at Discovery Day, we wanted them to think, ‘Okay, they’ve done this, they’ve covered this, they’ve learned that,’ so they know our potential as electrical and computer engineers.”

More than one hundred students and fifteen employers attended.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Brian Beyer, President and CEO of HELLBENDER Inc said, “This is a big reason why HELLBENDER Inc. is recruiting out of Pitt. The adjustments in curricula and timing that Swanson’s ECE department has made recently are producing work-ready electrical and computer engineers that hopefully we can retain in Pennsylvania.”