Viterbi career fair returns to old format after students complain

The Viterbi Career Center will change the structure of its career fair after receiving a flood of student complaints over a proposed lottery-style format once results came out. (Daily Trojan file photo)

The Viterbi Career Center will reverse changes made to the Viterbi Career Fair’s structure after students voiced complaints, according to a Sept. 28 email to engineering students.

The intended changes would have blocked off an estimated 20 high-volume companies and only allowed students selected from a lottery process to speak with the companies.

“We listened to your feedback about access to Alumni Park during the Viterbi Career & Internship Fair,” the email stated. “Access to Alumni Park will be the same as the general fair — open to all Viterbi students.”

To apply for the lottery, engineering students would have been required to upload their resumes to VMock, a career platform provided by USC. If the student’s resume achieved a score of 70 percent or higher based on an algorithm, they would be allowed to enter the drawing.

After last week’s lottery drawing on Sept. 27, students voiced their disappointment about not being selected for the “high-volume” companies.

Initially, the center restructured this year’s fair to mitigate the long lines, after many students complained about the lengthy wait times in previous years.

“It was always exhausting, even the times that I devoted my whole day to it, it was like I would stand in line for a couple hours and spend 30 seconds talking to a recruiter,” said Reed Barnes, a junior majoring in computer science.

These common complaints came to the attention of the Viterbi Career Center through feedback surveys in response to past years’ career fairs.

“[The new format was] actually based off of several years of survey results, both from the student perspective and from the employer perspective,” said Kaitlin Harada, director of Student Engagement and Career Connections.

While the new format aimed to address previous complaints, students were wary of its potential to reduce contact with certain employers.

“There are going to be a lot of deserving candidates left out because it’s a lottery-based system,” said Robert Vigil, a junior majoring in civil engineering.

Since computer science students form a significant majority of the engineering student population, a random drawing would have allowed far more computer science students into Alumni Park. Other engineering majors would have had significantly less representation, even though for many of them, these selective employers may be their best chance at securing a job the following summer.

“For [non-computer science majors], if one of their high volume employers gets locked behind this fence, their chances are, by default, going to be worse because they are not a computer science student,” Barnes said.

Since the Viterbi Career Center has already decided to reverse the upcoming fair’s structure, students will have to continue facing long lines and wait times to meet with recruiters.