Engineering, business expo didn't present equal opportunities to all majors, some students say

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Photo Credit: Ryan Lam | Daily Texan Staff

After walking around campus in business attire for Expo last week, some students said the career fair did not offer equal opportunities for people across various majors. 

Engineering and business expos draw over 500 employers to campus for interviews with students, according to the Engineering Career Assistance Center, or ECAC, and McCombs Fair app. 

Biomedical engineering senior Russel Kan said he chose not to attend Expo this year because few companies recruit his major. 

“Comparatively, there are definitely not as many companies hiring biomedical engineers as there are other majors,” Kan said. “It definitely isn’t too encouraging when there’s only 19 companies hiring BME (biomedical engineering) when there’s 335 total employers.”

Kan said he attributes some of the disparity to the industry but was still disappointed when he attended Expo in previous years. 

“It’s just tough to get companies because BME is a smaller industry compared to petroleum,” Kan said.

ECAC director Michael Powell said any company can register for Expo regardless of which majors it is recruiting, but he tries to extend invitations to companies that hire smaller majors, such as BME. 

“What we try to do is also look for what we see as potential weak points,” Powell said. “Are there industries that aren’t as represented and should we also make a push to reach out to them invitation-wise?” 

However, Powell said he cannot cap the number of companies hiring for a given major or tell already-registered companies not to come. 

“I can’t kick them out of the fair because we have too many people looking for (mechanical engineers),” Powell said. 

Powell said students who do not get interviews from Expo should attend other career fairs ECAC hosts in the fall and spring. 

“I like that students are excited about Expo,” Powell said. “I just don’t want them to think that within Expo is the sum total of all of their recruiting opportunities.”

At McCombs’ Expo, marketing junior John Balch said he does not feel Expo’s growth is evenly distributed across majors. 

“As I’ve seen the career fair continue to grow, I haven’t really seen much growth in the number of other majors’ opportunities that have shown up,” Balch said. “It’s a lot of just the same repeat companies for the same repeat positions.”

Balch said he has found his internship opportunities outside of McCombs’ resources through personal connections. 

“With marketing, especially when it comes to recruiting and such, I usually try to look outside of McCombs’ resources,” Balch said. 

Velma Arney, the senior director of BBA & MS Programs Career Services, said different businesses recruit new hires at different times, which could make it seem as though some majors have more companies recruiting for them.

“Students see other students securing everything very early on, and that always makes other students very anxious and nervous,” Arney said. 

Marketing junior Isabel Deike said students should look elsewhere when Expo presents a lack of open positions for their major. 

“You just make your own opportunities,” Deike said. “That’s when you go to the specific companies (you want) and research and do your own work.”