STEM-based job market gaining momentum

The good news for students is that hiring in the United States is gaining a little steam. The better news for Purdue students: Their university is a hot spot for corporate recruiters, particularly in the STEM areas.

So says Timothy Luzader, director of Purdue's Center for Career Opportunities. He sees the numbers and hears from employers.

"Every year, when we compare ourselves to peer institutions, we rank among the top as far as having the highest number of employers visit campus," Luzader says. "We've consistently been seeing this trend.

"Employers want to be efficient in their recruiting efforts. One way to do that is to focus on the core schools they visit, determined by where they feel they can have the best results. So, it's a very big deal to be a core school."

A survey of companies by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that employers expect to hire 13 percent more new college graduates nationally in 2013 than a year ago.

"In terms of the number of schools employers are visiting to recruit students, we're not seeing a tremendous increase but a very subtle one," NACE researcher Ed Koc said. "Employers have become more focused on certain places that produce graduates who fit their needs."

Over the course of an academic year, Purdue is the site for campus interviewing activities and numerous career fairs. Some 1,200-1,400 unique companies visit campus and meet with students seeking internships, co-ops or full employment.


The School of Management Employers Forum (SMEF) attracts nearly 150 companies to its career fairs each spring and fall. (Photo by Mark Simons)

One of the highest-profile and most attended, both by employers and student job-seekers, is Krannert’s School of Management Employers Forum (SMEF), which includes student-run careers fairs each fall and spring semester.

Krannert hosted 147 companies for its forum this fall, which equaled the participation in the 2008 fair and is an increase of about 15 percent over the previous two events. Fifty-five of those companies gave presentations either the day before or during the evening after the fair, and about 60 companies requested interview schedules.

"We had more than 120 interview schedules, with an estimated 600 interviews actually conducted," says Erik Props, Krannert’s associate director of undergraduate and alumni careers.

Tony Denhart, region manager of university relations for General Electric, says Purdue’s dual strengths in STEM and management make it a prime recruiting area for the corporation.

"There are endless reasons why Purdue continues to be one of GE's top universities," he says. "The education Purdue provides is one of reasons that GE has historically hired more students from here than any other university.

“The education, coupled with the soft skills, sets Purdue students apart. GE knows that Purdue students will arrive at GE with the leadership, communication and critical thinking skills needed to compete in a global world."