Q&A with Lauren Stites on Engineering Career Fair


Students met with employers at the Engineering Employment Expo last year, which ran from Sept. 23 Sept. 25.

The Engineering Career Fair will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at the ARC from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The event focuses on introducing current and former University Engineering students to companies seeking full-time employees and interns for the upcoming semester and summer. Held by Engineering Career Services (ECS), the fair is anticipated to attract more than 4,000 students to visit each day. The Daily Illini got the chance to sit down with Lauren Stites, senior assistant director for ECS, to learn more about the event and what students can expect.

The Daily Illini: What type of atmosphere can students anticipate when attending the event?

Lauren Stites: I would definitely say high energy will be the atmosphere. We are encouraging all students to dress in business casual attire; that is expected for the dress code. We have about 250 companies coming for the total (of) the two days. We’re expecting over 4,000 students each day this fall. So, it’s going to be busy.

DI: What are some exciting opportunities you have heard about being offered this year?

LS: Companies will be actively seeking students for internships this summer, as well as full-time positions. There will also be some companies who are participating in a job shadow program over winter break. This is geared more for our freshman, sophomore, junior students. I think the opportunity for connecting with an employer and networking is great for students across the board.

DI: What types of companies will be attending this year?

LS: Illinois is often one of the top recruited schools. Many companies have target schools, and Illinois is often one of the top target schools for employers. We’ll have the big name companies there, I’m sure you can think of some of those names, and we’ll also have those that are start-ups. So there is an opportunity for students whom may not want to work for a large organization. There are a full range of opportunities for students, even just looking at company size.

DI: What is your advice for students to prepare for the fair?

LS: I would say the first thing students need to do is download our Illinois ECS Career Fair app. We have gone paperless this year, and so all the information for students will be on the app. From there, students can see what companies are attending and have access to an interactive floor map. They can do research based on their major and see what companies are hiring within their major. They can use this app in a variety of different ways.

DI: What type of things should they bring to the event?

LS: I definitely think coming to the fair with some kind of a game plan is important. Making sure students are coming with at least 20 copies of their resume, and making sure that they have their elevator pitch prepared, especially for their target companies. Of course, remember that impressions matter, dress up and look professional and remember a firm handshake, smile. You may be really nervous, but sometimes you have to fake it till you make it — it’s a first impression. Smile, be excited, its okay to be a little nervous and the recruiters understand that, but they also want you to be successful.

DI: What are some final things students may need to know about the fair?

LS: Make sure students ask for recruiter information so they can follow up and connect with them after the event. Make sure you hydrate and pace yourself. This is somewhat of a marathon of a day. Make sure you are anticipating waiting in line. This is not the kind of event where you can block out a half hour of your day and talk to five companies. We’ll probably receive about 4,000 students each day at the event; it’s important to have the perspective that you will have to wait a little bit. We also are encouraging students to leave bags at home or use the ARC lockers … we will not be allowing bags in the career fair.

DI: If you could give advice to students on how to take advantage of this opportunity, what would it be?

LS: Well I think the advice I gave earlier as far as doing research and being prepared when walking into the fair. Also, encouraging the freshmen to go; it’s never too early to attend a career fair. It can be very overwhelming, so it’s good to go as a freshman because you won’t experience that same type of pressure to get an internship this year. I think there is a benefit because it allows students to network with companies and meet employers in person and become aware of what the company has to offer. It also starts a relationship with an employer that is hard to obtain with just a resume alone.

Samantha can be reached at [email protected].