Institutional link strengthens prospects

As info sessions and interviews begin to wind down, I listen to my roommates wax poetic about how the career fair has brought them one step closer to their dream internship. They talk of giveaways and call back interviews, and I just have to nod and smile, because for me, there was no reason to go the career fair. As a biology major, there were a grand total of six companies possibly looking to hire undergraduates from my major, and only three potentially offering internships (one of which was StartUp Companies ATDC, seriously?). I understand that Tech isn’t “known” for its biology majors, but I came to Tech expecting at least some help in figuring out what I wanted to do when I got out of here.

I’ve received more information from the department on joining Engineers without Borders than I’ve received on career opportunities which could potentially impact my future. Despite the limited communication, it seems like the Biology department is aware of the fact that there is a world beyond the Tech diploma. In 2010, the school attempted to host a College of Sciences career fair, but there is little information available on the success of the events.

This year, the department has instituted a series of lectures designed to educate biology students about potential career opportunities in the field, but with only eight lectures, the topics are broad and rarely job specific. While, yes, listening to professionals talk about their experiences on the job may provide insight into potential avenues into the field, without company-student interactions it is effectively impossible for students to secure full-time positions or even internships as a direct result of these seminars.

With more students than both the College of Computing and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts (both of which have successful annual seminars or career fairs) there is no reason why the College of Sciences shouldn’t be able to support a fair of its own. There is, of course, the possibility the cancelation was due to of a lack of company interest.

If this is the case, I don’t see why Tech hasn’t explored the possibility of utilizing its proximity to several other respected institutions in an effort to increase the event’s draw.  With Emory, Oglethorpe and even Georgia State in the greater Atlanta area, the possibility of a fair hosted by two or more of the universities would not only provide opportunities for students, but also appeal to the business savvy minds of the companies.  By opening the event up to other schools, employers are given the chance to “kill two birds with one stone,” while students have the opportunity meet companies that would pass by a school specific event.

No, students from every university won’t be able to get back to campus to make class; however, the effective cost might not actually be as great as it seems.  The participating schools could market the event to companies as an opportunity to avoid leg work and a chance to save time.

From there, let’s say the event was held at one of the schools in attendance, while that school is afforded convenience of having the fair on campus, this will be balanced by the less-than-convenient loss of space and increase of traffic, plus general maintenance fees. The other schools then would only be required to fund bus transportation to and from the event, and even then, a portion of that fee could be covered by some of the buy-in fees of the fair.

Finally, there is the wild card, out of Tech’s control. Would the inconvenience of an event held on another campus desirable to students at other institutions? I honestly can’t be sure if science majors at other schools are facing the same challenges that Tech’s sciences majors are.

All I can say is that at Tech, the ball is being dropped somewhere—be it by department heads, College of Science administrators or by the major specific student organizations such as the Biology Student Advisory Council or Alpha Kappa Psi (the chemistry fraternity) underneath them.

At this point in time, I don’t really care who isn’t planning what or not talking to whom, but until the college truly begins to focus on making its students even more successful as they were before, I don’t think the College of Sciences will be able to establish itself as a top-tier program able to consistently pull in the type of students the administrators think it deserves.