Nervous? Of course. Alysaa Faltin was outside her comfort zone. She’d never done a career fair before, certainly not one like the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering’s Spring Career Fair with its life-changing opportunities.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, a little scary,” the senior informatics major says. “I almost didn’t come.”
“I’m glad I did. It went better than I thought.”
It was a day for chill. A winter-storm warning added complexity to the Jan. 25 event at the Monroe Convention Center, but not cancellation. That was huge for Carleigh Hannon, director of career services. She’s directed the school’s career fairs since 2019, and has never had to cancel.
That streak remains intact. More than 530 of the 808 pre-registered students attended, as did most of the 23 employers.
“The Career Fair is all about connection,” Hannon says. “Even on a snowy day, students and employers turned out.
“Employers were eager to hire students. Students were eager to apply what they learn at Luddy to solve problems employers face.”
Faltin epitomized that curiously. She sought a consulting or business analyst job, and targeted companies such as Crowe, Epic, KPMG, and enVista.
“You can get a lot of good jobs with informatics,” she says. “It’s a great major.”
Informatics gave Faltin an edge that, as a freshman, she didn’t know she wanted.
“When I got here, I had no idea what I wanted to do. What intrigued me about informatics is how much you can do with it.”
Luddy’s Career Services and the entire Luddy School experience were big helps.
“They gave me the tools to prepare,” Faltin says. “I talked through my career options with them. I took a lot of different classes, so I have a variety of skills.”
Austin Curtis, a master’s student in Intelligent Systems Engineering, came to the fair with Minnesota and helping others on his mind. Research made that state a top job destination. An interest in philanthropy left him people focused. A first-time career fair participant, he says the Luddy School provided invaluable resources for what’s next.
“I hope to build a life for myself and find a job with enough money to donate to causes.”
As far as what kind of job that would be, Curtis says he’s wide open. He graduates in May and wants to start working by the fall.
Ruchit Desar, a graduate student in data science, was looking for an internship, with a preference to work remotely, before starting his full-time job search in August.
His interests were data science, business analyst and data analyst. He targeted Career Fair companies KPMG, Crowe and Epic.
“I’m looking for something that’s a mix of data science and business,” he said.
Finding a full-time consulting job that helps people solve problems topped Sarayu Nandipati’s priority list. The senior informatics major hoped to find something near her family in Chicago. Crowe and Grant Thornton were promising options.
An internship also was a priority for Yash Mody, a second-year data science masters’ student. He’s considering data scientist, data analyst or business analyst as careers.
As far as company recruiters, Luddy School informatics graduates Allison Stetter, Emily Long and Thomas Hoops vouched for the career fair’s impact. An earlier fair connected them with Chicago-based Crowe LLP, an accounting, technology and consulting firm. They were hired there and returned to Bloomington to recruit more Luddy students.
“Luddy’s Career Services did so much for us,” Stetter says. “You can tell the school wanted us to succeed then, and now.”
Adds Long: “They make it so easy to streamline going from a student to a full-time employee.”
Long says last fall’s career fair was so successful, Crowe filled all 20 available positions. They attended the spring fair to get the word out so students would apply next year.
“We have a variety of jobs,” Stetter says, “and we’re looking for informatics students to fill the more technical roles.”
Another Luddy informatics graduate, Braxton Reichard, returned as a recruiter for Trimedex, an Indianapolis-based company and Career Fair Gold sponsor that maintains and services medical equipment, and partners with hospitals around the nation. It offers 10-week paid internships for people with software engineering and data-base skills, as well as a background in Java, Python and other programming languages.
Luddy School students, says Trimedex recruiter Renee Slavens, are great fits. She says Reichard, who started as an intern before landing a full-time job, is a perfect example.
“I got connected with Trimedex through the career fair,” Reichard says. “It was a cool experience. I want other students to have that.”
McDonald’s Corporation was a new Career Fair partner. Early Career Recruiter Mayra Avilles says the company has paid internships and full-time positions in the Chicago area. She says McDonald’s needs software development engineers as well as people to fill global technical roles. Tech interns can make $30 an hour, with a full-time engineer starting at $90,000, plus a $10,000 relocation bonus.
Computer science alum Shane Brazeal of KPMG, which focuses on accounting, finance and technical advising, has had major success with Luddy graduates.
“They are phenomenal,” says Brazeal, who is co-chair of Luddy’s alumni board.
KPMG seeks employees with technical backgrounds who understand business needs and who work well with customers.
“There are a million technological tools out there,” Brazeal says. “We want people who understand those values, and who understand customers’ problems and the technology that can solve them. Do that over and over, no matter the customer and the challenge.”
The spring fair is smaller than the fall event, and provides a more internship-heavy environment.
“Spring fairs are great opportunities for first- and second-year students as they grow their confidence after connecting with the Luddy School,” Hannon says.
Fair officials constantly evaluate the event to maximize employer participation and student emphasis on face-to-face time.
“We’re learning and adapting to serve the students, and add value for employers,” Hannon says. “We are creative. We recognize employer budgets are in flux. Should we bring back virtual events? Would students still get that connection?”
Creativity included a new Luddy School meet-eat-and-mingle event, plus an etiquette dinner, both at Luddy Hall, the night before the fair. Students met with nine employers on each level of the building to “see where learning happens and get them excited about hiring,” Hannon says.
Organizers added a student lounge during the fair. They also provided employers with eight-foot tables (other schools have gone to six footers) so they could better build their brands and provide students with maximum information.
“It seems like a little thing,” Hannon says, “but it’s important to them.”
Planning is already underway for next fall’s fair, set for Sept. 20 at the Monroe Convention Center.
“It’s amazing how many Luddy alumni are interested in coming back and hiring current students,” Hannon says.