Rice Career Fair Fails Rice Students


Photo courtesy of Wills Rutherford

By Wills Rutherford 09/20/22 11:46 PM

Editor’s note: This is a guest review submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Thresher or its editorial board. All guest reviews are verified to the best of our ability and edited by Thresher editors for clarity and conciseness.

Comments like “What about the suit? What is the occasion? Who is getting married? he circled me as I walked through my college commons one day last fall. She took me by surprise; Why am I the only one in costume on the day of the job fair? My bioengineer friend was quick to respond to my question. “Why should I bother going to the job fair?” he said. “There are no bioengineering companies there.” He has all the reason. But the problem extends beyond bioengineering.

Rice is definitely the best university in texas and possibly the best university in the southern United States. We are home to the brightest students and the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Yet Rice stifles its competitive advantage by failing to connect its high-achieving students with the best job opportunities in the nation. I firmly believe that the easiest way for Rice to rise from regional to national prominence is to attract the best companies from across the country to our campus. I know that Rice is certainly capable of it. Who wouldn’t want to hire a Rice graduate?

However, looking at the list of companies that will attend this year’s official job fair, I see a different picture. According to Handshake, this year’s job fair contains just ONE bioengineering company. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, Moderna were not found recruiting in the Bioengineering school N° 9 in the whole country. As Rice celebrates 60 years of President Kennedy’s famous speech, I wonder what happened to our connection to space exploration and the aerospace industry. Only two aerospace companies hire at Rice, and neither is Boeing, Lockheed Martin or SpaceX. Why don’t semiconductor companies like Intel, Texas Instruments, NVIDIA, and AMD, who are desperate for talent, hire our electrical engineers? Apple is building a $1 billion campus and hiring 4,000 new employees just a three hour drive into Austin; Tesla recently completed his Gigafactory there. IBM, Google, Oracle, GM and many others also have huge campuses in the city. However, if a Rice student wants to work at any of those companies, her best option now is to upload her resume along with thousands of others and hope for the best. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of colleagues I know who have been successful in that endeavor. Getting into Rice should be the hard part.

When I tell my friends and family about this problem, they are shocked. “Those companies don’t recruit at Rice?” They are not alone either. Some frustrated organizations run by Rice students even took it upon themselves to create “Networking Night” to expand opportunities for Rice engineering students. However, this event is for engineers only and occurs very late in the recruiting cycle (when many companies are already interviewing candidates). Nor does he use Handshake, Rice’s official recruiting platform. As someone who has been through four recruitment cycles, I see how those factors greatly limit the impact of the event. However, the biggest issue I see here is why are companies that attend an unofficial Rice event not at the official job fair?

I wonder if Rice ever approached any of the companies mentioned above regarding recruitment? Surely many companies are looking for the high caliber talent that Rice has to offer. Many of them go to career fairs at other Texas universities, like the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, to fill their vacant positions.

I will say that Rice sees great opportunities, particularly in oil and gas. But she leaves a lot on the table, especially for non-engineering students and those looking beyond a career in energy. I also don’t want to criticize any of the companies currently attending the job fair. Fortunately I found a job through the job fair which I absolutely enjoy. I just feel that given Rice’s reputation, it should appeal to a much broader set of companies and should expand well beyond the energy industry. Not surprisingly, Rice ranks lowest of the top 20 schools for results on The 2022 Wall Street Journal Rankingfalling just below the University of Florida.

I went to a large Texas high school that usually sends a few students to Rice each year, and I frequently get calls from younger students interested in Rice. I always tell them the same thing: rice is amazing, I love it. But if you want a job in the industry, think twice before coming to Rice. Save your money, go to Utah or A&M, and you’ll have more career options. Until Rice provides her students with the career opportunities they deserve, my belief will stand firm.”

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