Reflections on Evening with Industry (upcoming October 6th) and my Corporate Journey
By Kirthi Kumar
If you had told me when I joined SWE in the fall of my first year that I would be spending 10 to 15 hours on SWE some weeks, I would probably think you were joking. Leading up to EWI, though, it seems like every moment I’m desperately looking for some excel spreadsheet to track a random detail I remembered about the event or using voice-to-text to send messages to my co-chair because it’s too long to type out. And now, with less than 10 days til the event, it seems practically inconceivable that I’ll have enough time to tee up every desired little detail. The 10 days feel like 3 months away and 3 seconds left to go simultaneously — and it’s a crazy feeling to have so much work culminate in one event.
But despite the hefty time commitment, being the co-chair for Evening with Industry (EWI) has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in college. This is a little bit of my EWI journey, a few tidbits to help you prepare for the day of, and what to do after the event.
For those of you who don’t know (how can you not know by now — I’ve spammed the link to register endlessly on the #jobs-opportunities channel on Slack), Evening with Industry is on October 6th from 4 to 6 PM. It’s an incredible opportunity to network and recruit, with over 20 companies being present and 60+ company representatives to speak with. They’re hiring directly from the event for internship and full-time roles, and there are opportunities for all engineering majors.
The SWoporate Lifestyle
SWorporate is SWE and Corporate meshed together, and I’ve been a part of it my whole SWE career. I actually started out in SWE the fall of my freshman year (Fall 2020) as a member of the Professional Development Month (PDM) committee. Through that, I was able to help out with many events and begin to learn how to interface with companies. After a few awkward online socials, I decided I really liked the corporate sector and SWE as a whole, and applied to be an officer for the spring semester (Spring 2021). I was the co-chair for Career Options in Engineering — a sort of spread out version of EWI — and that’s when I got a lot closer to a lot of my friends in SWE. Being more plugged into the happenings of corporate urged me to apply to be co-chair for EWI.
I’ve gotten really lucky with my co-chairs. My Career Options co-chair ended up becoming one of my best friends (especially when I was doing school online from home on the East Coast), and I’m super close to my EWI co-chair now (she actually introduced me to my now favorite taco place — ever). I mention this because SWoporate is definitely tight knit, and would highly recommend either applying to be an officer or committee member in the spring.
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
So, getting companies for EWI actually starts through a cold-emailing process where we contact hundreds of companies to see if they’re interested in doing an event. I ended up becoming more on the external-facing side of EWI — that meant once a majority of the companies were onboarded, I interacted with company representatives a lot. I think I actually did over 10 hours of individualized meetings with each company in attendance for EWI just so they could understand the logistics. Managing company logistics was certainly challenging (but also the thing that I secretly crave and live for).
From a professional standpoint, I think most of my development came from being able to co-lead a committee. When I was a PDM committee member, it was too late to help out with company logistics stuff as my chairs had taken care of it already. As a leader for my committee though, I wanted to make sure that everyone had the chance to at least introduce themselves to a company that they thought was interesting. My hope for the future of corporate is making committee members more involved in the sourcing and interactions with companies, and my vision is facilitating a lot more interaction between all levels of SWE and companies.
A final aspect, with respect to logistics, is definitely the whole COVID aspect of it all. I am so thankful for my co-chair, Hana, who dealt with the bulk of thinking about the in-person venue (but we deliberated jointly and endlessly on food, of course). When we ultimately decided on an online event, we were able to organize effective flows and create potentially seamless logistics for everyone. Not trying to jinx it or count the chickens before they hatch, but we seriously innovated on EWI and had some great ideas for making it a better experience (online or otherwise). Being part of the dream team to do it all was amazing, too.
Actual Recruiting Advice
Before EWI, make sure you have your resume submitted (after updating and proofreading it of course). The are so many resume guides online, but the resume is going to be your first touchpoint with a company.
So, this is the schedule for EWI (you all reading the blog get the sneak peak):
- 4–4:20 are introductory remarks
2. 4:20–4:30 and 4:30–4:40 are small group discussions. This is a time to get to know a company with a group of other peers (so there’s less pressure).
To get the most out of this, prepare a generic question or two in advance that is a qualifier for a company that you want to work for. Here are a few:
- How many employees does your company have and what is the managerial structure/how are teams divided?
- What constitutes a successful intern project?
- How does your company culture differ from that of your competitors?
From then on, until 6 PM, there’s the career fair. As someone who worked closely to engineer the design of the flow for how people talk to companies, let me share a few secrets.
- Once you enter a Zoom link, there will be multiple QR codes to sign up for the 2–3 companies in the room. Sign up for all of them in the room when you get there. That way you’ll be enqueued for them and be able to speak with reps as soon as possible.
- Have a minute-long elevator pitch prepared. Who are you, what’s your year/major, what are you interested in and why are you even talking to this company. Practice delivering it in front of a mirror (or on a lonely Zoom call). Practice it to your friends. Hit me up and practice it to me (or anyone else you know in SWE)!
- Be gracious about the time you’re spending with the recruiter. Most companies will be spending 3–5 minutes per student, but usually a bit more depending on the queue and number of reps they have at the event.
- Make sure you ask about any direct application links early on.
- Be confident! Show your personality and aim to make an impact.
- Don’t hesitate to link them to your portfolio website, Github, or LinkedIn. It can be really impactful to be confident enough to share it on the spot.
After EWI, try to connect with reps you spoke with. Have a follow up question? Learned something interesting during your conversation? Say that in your LinkedIn connection request. Even better, try asking them about how you can best stay connected — maybe they’ll even give you their email address. After the event, following up with the company (particularly specific recruiters) is your best shot at getting hired — or, at the very least, making it through your first resume screen. Overall, do your best to make the best impression possible and make sure your personality shines through during the conversation.
As a final thought, maybe I do spend too much time on SWE stuff. But honestly, organizing Evening with Industry has been so transformative for me, both personally and professionally, that I wouldn’t want to spend my 15 weekly hours on anything else.
I hope that you’ll register for Evening with Industry, and enjoy a night of networking and recruiting that myself, my co-chair, and our committee have worked so hard to put together. You can find more information here: link to register.