Every year, Penn attracts hundreds of companies to campus for recruitment; however, Penn Engineering students still do not feel adequately supported by Penn Engineering when it comes to finding jobs and internships. This is primarily due to the extreme overrepresentation of finance and consulting in every professional opportunities platform available to students, making job and internship search much more difficult for engineers. Thus, EDAB recommends that the administration work closely with Career Services to determine why engineering industry representation is so poor, and how the University can bring more engineering companies to campus. Steps need to be taken to achieve a more balanced distribution of companies and opportunities.
Job and internship search plays a huge part in student life at Penn. As such, it is paramount to ensure that Penn supports its students throughout this often high-stress process. Currently, career fairs, Handshake, the Penn Internship network and iNet comprise the primary avenues through which students conduct their job and internship searches within the University. However, there remains a general sentiment throughout the student body that there is lack of representation of industry opportunities and companies.
Analysis of Penn-sponsored Career Resources
The hallmark event and resource for engineers is the annual Engineering Career Fair. Looking closer at this event, the breakdown and composition of companies represented is less than promising for students hoping to find industry opportunities. The Fair is dominated by computer science companies, followed by finance and consulting, and lastly industry at less than 30% for the last two years.
On-Campus Events (Information Sessions, Networking Events, Workshops)
On-Campus events are another very important avenue through which students go about learning more about prospective companies, meet current employees, and discover the fields or companies in which they would like to work. A quick scan of the opportunities presented in the “Events” tab on Handshake shows that virtually every single event held on campus is aimed at investment banking or consulting, with the occasional computer science event for a software development company. There are no opportunities for engineers to learn more about their industries, network with other engineers, and make connections with employers.
A survey conducted in mid-March 2018 received 64 responses from sophomores, juniors and seniors. It revealed that 41% of students felt that finding a job or internship in the field they want to enter was “difficult”, and that nearly 60% of surveyed students were “dissatisfied” with the resources available to them at Penn (Career Fairs, Handshake, OCR etc.). Of these students, only 3 (less than 5%) expressed interest in entering the finance and consulting fields; yet, opportunities presented to students through Penn-sponsored events and resources are wildly disproportionately skewed towards finance and consulting. The remainder of survey respondents indicated that they were interested in medical devices, robotics, energy, aerospace and computer hardware, just to name a few. In fact, one student remarked that “There is absolutely no valuable recruitment for engineering fields other than computer science. It is very frustrating to be driven to almost exclusively consulting or programming because those are the only companies that come to campus.” Another student remarked that she originally sought internship opportunities in R&D and biotech, but ultimately went with an internship in consulting because there were precisely only a small handful of search results on Handshake for the “biotech”, “bioengineering” and “medical devices” filters, but hundreds and hundreds of results for consulting.
Evidently, there is a tremendous mismatch between the job and internship opportunities presented to Penn engineers and the interests of students. Students can end up feeling disheartened, frustrated or even feel pressured into entering fields that they are not actually interested in because of the disproportionate representation of finance, consulting and computer science companies and opportunities available on campus. To tackle this, EDAB recommends that the administration work closely with Career Services to help achieve a more balanced distribution of companies and opportunities on campus so that all students in all fields feel better supported in their searches. This includes the companies that come to campus for career fairs, the companies who post opportunities on Handshake, as well as employers who come to campus to host events and information sessions.