I raced into Ackerman Union, hoping my sprint down Bruin Walk hadn’t soaked my dress shirt in sweat. I skidded to a stop outside Ackerman Grand Ballroom and, with a stack of resumes in hand, mustered up whatever courage I could get on an empty stomach and walked in. One hour was all I had after all.
This is not an unfamiliar tale at the UCLA Engineering & Technical Fair. The long lines to speak to recruiters, the even longer lines to get inside the fair and the anxious expressions of hundreds of students, each hoping for that dream job or internship, are not anything new to the seasoned fair attendee.
To add some background, the E&T Fair is a two-day fair hosted by the UCLA Career Center, where dozens of employers in the technical engineering field, such as Google, Microsoft and Snapchat, come to campus to hire students for summer internships or full-time jobs.
The E&T Fair is held twice per year — once in the fall quarter and once in the winter quarter — and has historically been held in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for two consecutive working days in mid-October and in mid-January.
The 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. time frame, however, does not fit well with students’ class schedules and either limits the amount of time they can spend at the E&T Fair or forces them to skip classes in order to attend. In addition, students’ lack of preparedness for the fair exacerbates the already-present issue of long lines to speak to recruiters, thereby decreasing the value of the time students spend at the fair.
The solution to this logistical challenge is twofold, yet straightforward: The Career Center should shift the E&T Fair times to 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and increase student awareness of BruinView’s resources.
On the organizational front, shifting the E&T Fair timing to 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. solves, for the most part, the challenge of students having to miss class while also maintaining a level of convenience for the recruiters attending the fair. Referring to the UCLA registrar class schedule, a majority of science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes are held some time between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and shifting the fair’s times by two hours opens up more opportunities for students who cannot afford to miss classes.
On the publicizing front, increasing awareness of BruinView’s resources addresses the issue of unneeded congestion at the fair due to students’ lack of preparedness. According to Chris Howell, the Career Center’s industry relations manager, BruinView has a live listing of the employers who are attending the E&T Fair, and students can access employers’ recruitment applications online before the fair.
By highlighting this feature through mass emails prior to the E&T Fair, the Career Center can urge students to apply for employers’ internship and job openings prior to attending the fair, as opposed to the current practice of doing the reverse. In doing this, not only would students spend less time speaking to employers they are not interested in, thereby decreasing lines, but they would also appear better prepared to recruiters, since they would already be knowledgeable about the employers’ hiring requirements and could advocate for their applications.
In spite of this solution’s benefits, one could argue that hosting the fair from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. would be inconvenient for the recruiters. However, it is appropriate to point out that UC Berkeley, which invites many of the same employers that UCLA does, is hosting its February Internship and Summer Job Fair from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. A single hour’s translation of this four-hour time frame is not notably inconvenient — in fact, considering the LA traffic surge in the morning, it might even be more convenient to host the event at 1 p.m. as opposed to at 11 a.m.
In addition, with the 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. time frame and owing to the fact that well-known employers like Google, Microsoft and Amazon attract large crowds of students, coming early to the E&T Fair is a must, thereby causing students to have to weigh skipping class — which could be detrimental to their grades — over having only a limited amount of time to meet with employers.
Ultimately, it’s important students make the most of their time at E&T Fair. Howell himself stated that the Career Center doesn’t like that students have to encounter long lines and that it’s open to recommendations to solve this problem. With this commendable amenability in hand, it’s important that both the Career Center and students take steps to allow for a smoother and better E&T Fair experience.