TOC makes changes to combat crowding

Next week, students will flock to the Jared L. Cohon University Center (CUC) for the annual Technical Opportunities Conference (TOC). During the conference, companies vie for students’ attention as they recruit for both summer internships and full-time employment opportunities. The TOC comes on the heels of last Wednesday’s Employment Opportunities Conference (EOC), which is geared toward non-technical majors, and Friday’s Business Opportunities Conference (BOC).

This year, the organizers of the TOC have made several changes to accommodate the popularity of the job fair. For the second year, the TOC will now stretch across three days — Monday Sept. 28, Tuesday Sept. 29, and Wednesday Sept. 30. On the first day, the fair will be in both the Wiegand Gymnasium and Rangos Hall; on subsequent days it will only be held in the gymnasium.

The TOC is a joint effort between the College of Engineering, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), whose members start planning the conference during the spring semester. SWE is a professionalization organization whose goal is to "promote the image and success of women in engineering both internal and external to SWE, by providing resources for personal and professional development and a community that advocates diversity and awareness," according to their website.

Each year, the previous TOC committee — a group of ten students — selects two directors for the following year after sending out applications to the members of SWE. This year’s directors, chosen after a rigorous interview process, are junior materials science and engineering major Penelope Ackerman and senior electrical and engineering major Yiru Yao.

After all ten committee members are chosen, they are divided into four subcommittees: corporate relations, public relations, human resources, and operations. Each team works on its own timeline to ensure that the fall TOC runs smoothly. The corporate relations team, for example, begins reaching out to companies in the spring to get all interested employers registered by the early August deadline.

Nearly 500 companies are recruiting at the TOC, with a focus on students in technical majors. To meet fire codes, as well as to ease crowding in Wiegand Gymnasium and Rangos Ballroom, event organizers have changed the schedule and structure of this year’s TOC.

Each day, the TOC will be geared toward internships from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. From 1 to 2 p.m. there will be a mandatory lunch break for the recruiters, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. the fair will focus on students seeking full-time offers. This shift in strategy will “keep students flowing through, and staying within the numbers that we can have in a given space at a given time,” Senior Director of Strategic Programs and Special Projects for the College of Engineering Kelly McQuoid told The Tartan.

McQuoid, who organizes the TOC each year with help from the student leaders, said that the days will also be broken down by major.

Monday is open to everyone, Tuesday will focus on computer-based majors, and Wednesday will focus on other science and engineering majors, including biology, chemistry, and all majors in the College of Engineering other than electrical & computer engineering.

Students attending the TOC will also receive name tags, color-coded by major, McQuoid said, so that TOC staff and recruiters can better help students find what they’re looking for. Because of this change, students hoping to attend must register for the TOC ahead of time on Tartantrak.

These strategies, McQuoid said, will help ease the long lines and overcrowding that have long characterized the TOC.

In previous years, “Students didn’t feel like they could get in front of the employers that were there for them, because you might have a mechanical engineering company squished between Apple and Microsoft,” McQuoid said. “We’re trying to be aware and responsive to all sorts of different concerns.”

TOC organizers will also keep a head count of students in the gym at all times during the event, capping the number of students allowed in at once to prevent overcrowding.