The Union ballroom at the University of Texas buzzed with the chatter of 150 students networking with 60 corporate representatives after the fall engineering career fair. Hosted by UT SWE, the sixth annual Networking Night provided UT engineering students the opportunity to speak with corporate representatives over a three-course meal, rotating tables between entrée and dessert.
Planning for Networking Night began as soon as school let out for the summer, months in advance of the mid-September date, Mechanical Engineering senior Sangeetha Mylvaganam, UT SWE’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, explained.
“It starts over the summer when I send out the corporate package to companies and that’s for companies to get an idea of what they can support throughout the year—not just networking night,” Mylvaganam said. “The list [of companies] was added onto all the way until one or two weeks before [Networking Night].”
Each year, students indicate their company preferences and companies, in turn, indicate which students they’d like to sit with over dinner. The tradition started six years ago when SWE officers wanted to maximize face time with recruiters.
“One thing they wanted to do was match students preferences and company preferences and give [students] an optimal amount of time to speak with the companies,” Mylvaganam said. “That’s where the table rotations started”
Developing personal connections with corporate representatives is the highlight of the event, according to Petroleum Engineering sophomore Iris Jing.
“I sat with a representative from Chevron who does production engineering for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico assets,” Jing said. “I got to see how someone fits into a company.
The implementation of an event with over 200 attendees required help from both the officer team and the section’s membership.
“The corporate branch helped behind the scenes with the details; raffle prizes, signs were all there so I didn’t have to worry about that at all,” Mylvaganam said.
Compared to previous Networking Nights, this year’s event saw more diversity in engineering companies supporting UT SWE.
“You’ve got chemical companies; you’ve got services companies, more construction, aerospace and financial companies,” Mylvaganam said.