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 was held Wednesday, Sept. 15, in Harrington Auditorium.
"The Fall Career Fair exceeded our goal; it was a packed house," said Jeanette Doyle, director of WPI's Career Development Center. "More than 1,000 students attended and met with recruiters from more than 100 companies. Following the event, recruiters couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the quality of WPI students and alumni."
Surpassing last fall's total, 125 companies from the computer, healthcare, electronics, financial, construction, and environmental industries, among others, were at the fair to recruit for full-time positions, co-ops, and internship programs at the 18th annual fair. Many recruiters reported strong hiring situations at their companies—a positive sign for WPI students and graduates.
Those companies included Easton, Pa.-based Victaulic, a manufacturer of mechanical pipe-joining products that employs people all over the world. Doris Brooks is a corporate recruiter for the company; she was eager to talk about how well-rounded and prepared WPI students are to lead project teams and to solve important problems, thanks to the university's revolutionary project-based curriculum, which prepares students to put knowledge to work by developing meaningful solutions to important societal problems all over the world.
"I have yet to come across another college or university-level, study-abroad program that has as much substance as WPI's Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) and Major Qualifying Project (MQP) programs," Brooks said. "Through these interdisciplinary projects WPI students learn to work in teams, and that is a skill that's very important to our company. Because the students get to actually make recommendations and solve real-world problems, they are well rounded, and very smart. I'm so impressed by them."
Jessica Flanagan, director of global talent acquisition for Maynard, Mass.-based Stratus Technologies, was at the fair looking for computer science majors to fill a full-time opening as well as internship spots. She explained that WPI has "the right programs for us and our work culture. WPI students are well prepared, and they present well, thanks to the university's projects program. We're all about WPI."
Benjamin Cleveland works as a research and development engineer for Raynham, Mass.-based Depuy MITEK, a Johnson & Johnson company. He earned his bachelor and master's degrees from WPI, so he speaks from experience when he says that WPI alumni are strongly sought after to fill important positions. He was joined by five other recruiters—all of whom were recent WPI graduates. "WPI turns out great graduates, who are ready to hit the ground running," he said, noting that the company's hiring outlooks remains strong, despite the economic downturn.
The upswing in job postings and career fair attendance at the university 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.