Excitement over new job opportunities and the potential for innovation filled the autumn air, as roughly 2,200 students gathered in the courtyard of UC Irvine’s Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Building to chat with recruiters from more than 30 local tech companies. In the evening, graduate students attended more intimate networking receptions. This was over two days, Oct. 11–12, 2022, as the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) hosted its 4th Annual Industry Showcase, providing a venue for corporate recruitment, student engagement and networking, and faculty outreach for industry collaboration.
“Companies see the value and want to be a part of this showcase because it connects them to talent tailored to their specific needs better than a broad, universitywide event,” says Jason King, director of corporate relations. “Our unique structure makes us stand out, and our numbers make us a great one-stop shop for recruitment.”
ICS is home to more than 3,000 undergraduate, 800 master’s, and almost 450 Ph.D. students. It’s also one of the few stand-alone computer science schools in the nation, housing the Departments of Informatics, Computer Science, and Statistics. So the event unites companies in search of innovative tech solutions with students offering new perspectives and technical expertise in areas ranging from software and game design, to artificial intelligence and machine learning, to data analytics. Skills in these areas apply to many fields beyond the tech sector, from healthcare to transportation, and students learned about the wide variety of companies in need of their talent and knowledge.
Visibility & Recruitment
Each day began with two corporate information sessions. The first day, more than 120 students learned about Northrop Grumman, a global aerospace, defense and security company, followed by a presentation by the global medical technology company Masimo. On the second day, 250 students attended a Google info session, which was followed by a presentation by the software company SAP.
“I got the chance to hear about opportunities at big companies like Google and got answers to questions that I had about them. I also got to hear from companies I hadn’t heard of before, like Massimo and SAP,” says informatics major Michael Kurdahi. “I got excited about applying for these companies after hearing their presentations and how passionate the recruiters were about their respective companies.”
King points out that the showcase offers visibility to both tech giants and smaller companies alike. “We level the playing field for smaller companies, giving them the same opportunity to meet with hundreds of potential candidates.”
Masimo’s Technical Recruiting Manager, Philip Vickers, was pleased to be at the event, connecting with future employees. “As a local employer, our relationship with the university is a critical partnership,” he says. “The students were prepared and exceptionally engaging throughout the day. I was surprised at the amount of algorithm, AI and machine learning talent open to learning more about Masimo. We’ll undoubtedly see several of these students at Masimo as interns, or new grad hires in the future.”
By the afternoon, the courtyard had transformed into a marketplace of career possibilities. Each day, recruiters from more than 15 companies set up information tables and interacted with hundreds of motivated students. “We were so impressed with the students that showed up,” says Rachel Syko, talent specialist at Flock Freight. “The students were so eager and were extremely interested in what Flock is doing to disrupt the transportation space. I am so excited to sit down with some hiring managers. We are excited to see what other partnerships can come of this in the future.”
The students were similarly enthusiastic. “At the fair, I got the opportunity to interact and network with recruiters from many companies, from big ones like Meta and Google to more local ones like eQ Technologic and Numecent,” says Kurdahi. “I also made a lot of friends who have similar interests. This entire event made me really excited about my future, and it will always be memorable for me as being the first step toward launching my career.”
Graduate-Level Research & Networking
In addition to the information sessions and job fair, which many ICS undergraduate students attended, the showcase also featured two networking receptions for graduate students, held on the 6th floor patio and conference room of Donald Bren Hall.
On the first evening, around 350 participants attended the Master’s Networking Reception. “When talking to the recruiters at the reception, it allowed me to actually showcase my personality,” says Antonio Rodriguez, a master of data science student. “There wasn’t the pressure of trying to have a quick conversation with the recruiters. I also got to meet more students who are in my cohort in a social setting as opposed to a class setting.”
On the second evening, around 150 participants attended the Ph.D. Networking Reception. “It was so beneficial for us to have a Ph.D.-focused event as we recruit for research specifically,” says Melany del Carpio, university talent scout of Adobe. “We connected with great potential candidates. I look forward to more events with UCI!”
Computer science Ph.D. candidate Catarina Belém enjoyed meeting with the recruiters and her fellow students. “It was a great opportunity to get together and meet not only top tech industry personnel but also other Ph.D. students,” she says. “I liked the fact that there were technical people there as well with whom we could have conversations, not only about their current jobs but also their past endeavors.”
While employment opportunities are an obvious focus, there’s also the potential for research collaborations. “Of particular interest to ICS was the opportunity for Ph.D. and MS students to hold one-on-one technical conversations with industry representatives,” says Tony Givargis, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, “which can lead to research engagement as well as internship opportunities.”
Opportunities for Innovation
The connections made throughout the two days of networking will launch careers and create partnerships that lead to real-world solutions. This was particularly evident to Syed Samiullah, vice president and regional information officer of Optum, a first-time ICS Industry Showcase participant.
“We spoke with roughly 500 students, and [received] over 280 resumes,” says Samiullah. “Where have we been in the past? We definitely need to be at these events!” He was pleased not only by the technical skills of the students but also their passion and drive to be a catalyst for change. “People are interested in [the] ability and the opportunity to make a difference. And so the conversation with many of the folks that I had the opportunity to connect with is, you can still make a difference and be part of [our healthcare solutions] team using your keyboard and a mouse!”
Samiullah, also a member of the Dean’s Industry Advisory Board, had the chance to speak with ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou. “One of the conversations I had directly with Dean Marios is the opportunity that he’s creating with the corporate world [by developing] talent that has a tendency to look at things from a very different lens,” he says. “This is certainly a very significant tier-one school from a computer technology point of view for employers like us.”
The goal is always to create a win-win situation from both an industry and academic standpoint. “As a leading academic program in computer science, we’re trying to set the bar high for mutually beneficial outcomes that revolve around corporate partners,” says King. “The showcase is the culmination of our partnership efforts for outstanding recruitment and research collaborations.”
— Shani Murray