Virtual Fall Career Fair series to begin Sept. 21

Career Exploration Week to include Graduate School Exploration events, unlike previous years

The Fall Career Fair will be held virtually in the form of a Career Exploration Week Sept. 21–25 and a series of six smaller career fair sessions Sept. 25–Oct. 22. According to the Career Fair website, this year’s Career Fair will emphasize graduate school exploration, sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, in addition to job and internship opportunities.

The six smaller sessions each have a different career focus: government, non-profit, and social impact (Sept. 25); consulting, data analytics, finance, investment, and trading (Oct. 1); healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and sciences (Oct. 6); hardware, robotics, and software (Oct. 8); chemical, manufacturing, materials, supply chain, and sustainability (Oct. 21); and aerospace, defense, energy, environment, sustainability, and transportation (Oct. 22).

The Career Fair will utilize the Brazen hiring platform. Students can register for events through the Career Fair website through Handshake or Brazen. Student registration opened Sept. 2, and Brazen registration will close on the day each event is held. Brazen has text, audio, and video chat capabilities, as well as a virtual booth feature for recruiters. 

Unlike previous years, MIT will not have a student holiday during the career fair. Additionally, there will be no official Interview Day, and each company will coordinate its own interviews.

Additionally, unlike previous years, Career Exploration Week will include several “Graduate School Exploration” events, including information sessions with graduate and professional schools and a panel with current graduate students.

The Career Fair website contains a statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion in solidarity with this summer’s protests against “the systemic issues of racism in this country” and “the tragic loss of black lives at the hands of police.” 

The Career Fair directors “recognize our partnership with companies that have actively participated in discrimination and other injustices” and “are saddened by how many of them have profited off of these systems of injustice,” the website writes. “The Directors hope to set the foundations for pursuing relationships with ethical companies and in 2020, we will hold every Fall Career Fair employer to a certain standard when they are interacting with MIT students.”

Companies that violate the Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines, the National Association of Colleges and Employers Principles for Employment Professionals, or MIT CAPD recruiting guidelines “will no longer have their planned access to MIT career facilities or be denied access to MIT official recruiting,” and information about the violating company’s infraction “will be distributed to campus student groups.”

The Career Fair website also encourages students to ask companies about their “sustainability related initiatives” and sustainability-related job opportunities. The webpage writes that students should look “into recent industry-specific trends in sustainability to tailor [their] questions to ones that are most important” to a company’s particular industry.

MIT students will also have access to Harvard’s Biotech Club Fair (Oct. 5-6); Harvard’s Data Analytics, Science, and Technology Fair (Oct. 9); the Harvard-MIT Media, Marketing, Humanities, and Creative Careers Expo (Oct. 15); Harvard College Business School Night (Oct. 28); and Harvard College Law School Night (Nov. 11). 

Like last year, companies with the “First Year Friendly” label on Handshake and Brazen are interested in “engaging in conversations and exploration” with first year students. Companies with the label “First Year Friendly Plus” are “actively recruiting students who are in their first year at MIT.”

According to an FAQ, students who are unable to attend the Career Fair events due to time zone differences can review information for each of the fairs and “contact company representatives to learn more” about positions. Students may also find MIT alumni at companies of interest through the MIT Alumni Directory or Advisors Hub with which to conduct an informational interview.

Career Fair marketing director Catherine Washburn ’22 wrote in an email to The Tech that while this year’s Fall Career Fair cannot “recreate” the “fanfare and on-campus buzz” of normal years’ fairs, the six smaller fairs “will allow for more flexibility and less stress around one single time in the fall semester.” The themed fairs also “allow students to focus” on their particular industries of interest, thereby “reducing the need to alter their elevator pitch or approach with an employer within a single fair.”

“Participating in the fair virtually also means that, without the noise and clamor of hundreds of your fellow students around you, there will be a reduction in any perceived pressure from peers, making conversations with employers more comfortable and focused,” Washburn wrote. “Having conversations begin with text chat lowers the focus on appearance or physical presentation, and more on students’ qualifications.” Employers may request audio or video chats, but students have “the right to refuse.”

“Students will also be able to wait in line for multiple employers simultaneously (though limited to actively chatting with one employer at a time), and may see a broader array of employers due to lower employer costs to attend (such as hotel and travel costs),” Washburn wrote.

Washburn wrote that a virtual career fair also attracts employers that “may not have recruited at a traditional fair” by eliminating travel costs. “In addition, we were able to significantly reduce the price of attending fairs due to decrease in operational costs in comparison to an in-person fair that involves rental fees, staffing, meals, printed materials, and more.”

Washburn wrote that “virtual recruiting isn’t new, but COVID-19 has forced all employers to adopt and embrace a virtual recruiting strategy.” 

Washburn added that “employers are more readily adopting new advances in talent technologies and AI in order to implement their talent acquisition. As more companies learn to successfully recruit virtually, HR departments may shift away from physically recruiting on-campus” and use platforms such as Handshake to recruit students.

COVID-19 “has provided us with an opportunity to pilot ideas that were previously suggested by students and faculty and explored by the OVC [Office of the Vice Chancellor] Career Exploration Committee,” Washburn wrote, citing that this year’s fair will have increased graduate school exploration opportunities and “a wider range of employers in smaller events.”

Additionally, this year’s Career Fair expands the “career exploration and job search timeframe” beyond September, “when many students are just arriving and getting a sense of the opportunities they might want to pursue.”

Candidates and employers can contact the career fair committee at Individuals may also join an employer mailing list on the website “for up-to-date communications and future information about the MIT Fall Career Fair.”

Update 9/25/2020: This article was updated to include quotes from the Fall Career Fair committee.