Rethink Connections: IE Student Organizations

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Rethink Connections: IE Student Organizations

Industrial Roundtable

What began as an almost surprisingly successful event for a then-fledgling Purdue Engineering Student Council (PESC) in the early 1980s has become the largest student-run job fair in the country, attended by more than 10,000 students. The annual Industrial Roundtable (IR) seems to be paying dividends for student organizers and job searchers, as well as the companies seeking to hire them.

Karen Rockwell, a sophomore in industrial engineering, joined PESC in spring 2012 and quickly contributed as a member of the IR Committee. Her role has been twofold: to organize a scholarship for students and help ensure a successful experience for students attending the job fair. “As I helped recruit companies to the job fair, I also asked them to contribute to a scholarship fund,” Rockwell says.

It looks to be a job well done. This year’s IR was its largest in history with more than 360 companies in attendance. She also organized a student tent to help settle the nerves of young job searchers. Students were able to drop off backpacks, check on appearances, grab a drink of water and run their introductions by representatives of Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities.

Industrial engineering students have a wide range of opportunities at the roundtable and a supplemental career night that is sponsored by the student chapter of the Institute for Industrial Engineers (IIE). Companies, large and small, from health care to aerospace and food to transportation industries are looking for the particular expertise of industrial engineering thinkers.

“Career Night is valuable to students, because it gives them an edge over the hundreds of other students attending the Industrial Roundtable,” says Ryan Tuomenoksa, president of the student chapter of IIE. “At Career Night, students get a chance to learn specifics about companies and hear what the companies are looking for in applicants. For those not interested in the companies at the event, it gives an overview of industries and establishes a benchmark for looking at other companies.”

For both Tuomenoksa and Rockwell, the experience gained from helping others land jobs will undoubtedly help them as well.

“Working on a major event like the largest student-run job fair in the nation has helped me sharpen my industrial engineering thought process,” Rockwell says. “I’ve learned how to best execute plans efficiently and quickly to produce optimal results.”