Despite the continuing sluggishness of the national employment market, WPI graduates remain in high demand, as evidenced by a 7-percent jump this year in jobs posted with the university's Career Development Center (CDC) and a strong, at-capacity interest among employers in WPI's fall Career Fair, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. in Harrington Auditorium.
Surpassing last fall's total, 125 companies from the computer, healthcare, electronics, financial, construction, and environmental industries, among others, will be on campus to recruit for full-time positions, co-ops, and internship programs at the 18th annual fair. Those companies include CDM in Cambridge, Mass., a consulting, engineering, construction, and operations company with 4,500 employees in more than 120 offices worldwide. Laura Bevelaqua, a college recruiter with CDM, says WPI is one of her firm's 26 target schools.
"Students from WPI have great skill sets that match what we're looking for," she says. "The fact that the WPI education is heavily focused on research projects is what really stands out for us. We need people who have not only classroom training, but also real hands-on, in-the-field training. Project management is very important to us, and the WPI projects experience helps students develop that skill."
Doug Sullivan '98, a hardware design manager at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corp., agrees. "WPI's project-based curriculum has proven extremely effective at preparing co-op students to hit the ground running. At EMC we have come to rely on WPI students making significant contributions within days."
The ongoing growth in interest among potential employees is also evident in the jump in new jobs posted with the CDC, which reports that job opportunities listed by corporate recruiters have jumped 7 percent from the previous academic year. Employers say they recognize the value of WPI's approach to education, with its breadth, its emphasis on real-world research projects, and its opportunities for global project work, notes CDC Director Jeanette Doyle.
"WPI's unique, interdisciplinary curriculum has students working in teams to address some of the world's most pressing problems," she says. "It's an approach that helps create innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and, most important, leaders—which are exactly the kind of employees that companies need today."
The upswing in job opportunities comes as WPI continues to receive national attention for the quality and value of its education. In July, WPI was ranked 15th in the nation among colleges and universities that offer the highest return on investment, according to PayScale.com. A more recent report by PayScale, which recognized the top schools that produce the best-paid graduates, ranked WPI 7th in the nation for highest starting median salary, and 9th in the nation for highest mid-career median pay among engineering schools. In The Princeton Review's "2011 Best Colleges" rankings, WPI's career center ranked 20th among national colleges and universities.