Career Fair Directors enact measures to boost employer diversity

Career Hack sessions, student lounges, and a feedback system are all new features of this year’s Career Fair, taking place today in the Johnson Athletic Center and Rockwell Cage.

The changes are meant “to enhance the diversity of employers represented at Career Fair in terms of industry, size, recruiting demographic, and corporate/government/non-profit status,” according to a memo sent to The Tech by Career Fair Directors.

Furthermore, for the first time, this year’s employers were required to sign an agreement that representatives from their companies “will speak with any student who approaches them, regardless of their year, major, or previous experience.”

Last year’s Career Fair was criticized for primarily featuring large, major companies. This year’s fair will feature more startups and nonprofit organizations: 82 companies with fewer than 50 employees are taking part in the fair.

New this year, startups and nonprofits have the option to be reimbursed for travel expenses up to $500. The cost of getting a booth will continue to be substantially lower, at $500, for these small companies. (For larger companies, prices range from $1,250 for a Rockwell booth to $18,000 for a “Platinum Sponsorship” which includes a booth in a custom location.)

This year, booths for startups and underrepresented companies will be located in a “highlighted” area meant to attract students, featuring a student lounge and a professional headshot photographer.

Two student lounges have been added to provide students with a safe space with tables and chairs that they can relax in before jumping into the jungle of potential employers. Students will be directed to the area with extensive signage.

In addition, the GECD is offering Career Hack sessions for students to discover new career paths through several panels. A session entitled Careers for the Social Good will take place in Kresge Little Theater at 10:30 a.m.

Students will also be able to fill in a feedback form on the Career Fair website at the end of the fair and suggest possible ways to improve the event.

The Career Fair is taking this direction after several students reached out to the UA last year seeking to bring actors involved in social change to MIT’s fair in addition to established companies.

Andy Trattner ’18, one of the students initially interested in making changes to Career Fair, insisted on the importance that students not see the fall Career Fair as the only occasion to find a job or summer internship.

“It is not the only opportunity to get a job for MIT students, there are tons of other options,” he said. In particular students should know about smaller actors advocating for social change, development, and innovation.

In their move to promote diversity among companies at the fall fair, the Career Fair Directors seem to be moving in this new direction.

The 418 potential employers at this year’s fair have also been asked to identify the skills they are looking for, in addition to majors. Next year, the Career Fair team plans to match employers and students based on skills, rather than on course number alone.

Santiago Ospina contributed reporting.