The inaugural First-Year Family Weekend Career Networking Fair was unlike ordinary career fairs. Instead of company representatives behind booths, 18 parents of freshmen offered advice to students Nov. 1 on campus.
“This is not your regular career fair,” said Wenbo Yin, a first-year master’s student in electrical and computer engineering. “I think it is nice that parents chose to showcase what their companies are doing, so that students can understand what is going on out there in the real world.”
The fair represented many sectors of today’s job market, including medicine, computer science and technology, business-oriented professions and nanotechnology.
The goal of the fair, said Mark Savage, director of Cooperative Education and Career Services for the College of Engineering, who launched the fair, was to “expose students all over campus to different career paths, and perhaps some that they never even knew existed.”
“What you think you are going to do in college is very different from what you actually end up becoming,” said parent Archana Jain, vice president of Verizon. Jain studied chemical engineering and worked in the steel industry after graduating, only to find out that management was what truly interested her. She encouraged students to keep their minds open.
“The reason I didn’t want to be a doctor is because I felt that doctors need to study all their life,” Jain said. “I thought that as an engineer, I will study for four years, and I will get into an industry and know the stuff. How I was wrong! Whatever field you pick, one important thing is you have to constantly learn.”
Pinyen Lin, deputy director of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., agreed. His advice to students: “Read a lot, so that you are familiar with the field you are going into. Spend extra time outside of course work to prepare yourself to work in a field you are interested in.”
Jim Bushnell, owner of Pyramid Peak Design, told students to “find something you are passionate about. Sometimes that means that you are not chasing the big promotion or fancy cars.”
Mechanical engineering student Ahmed Elsamadisi ’14 said his passion for bridging the gap between human interaction, business and engineering in terms of algorithms is not a position offered by major companies yet, but after talking with parents at the event, he said that he was encouraged to continue working on his startup.
“I thought it was a great event for freshman and sophomores to come and see parents who are working in fields that are of interest for students,” said Levi Patish ’16, a bioengineering major. “I learned some information that I didn’t know before.”
Amit Gupta, an aerospace engineer who works for KPMG consulting, said “Don’t worry about where your path is going to take you. As long as you enjoy and have a passion for doing what you are doing, you will find a successful career.”
Hanna Zdrnja ’15 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.