Last night I went to Oregon State’s Networking Night in Corvallis, Oregon. The event is meant to be an informal kick-off to the STEM Fall Career Expo, which takes place the next day. I drove down to the event from Portland, which is about an hour and a half away.
Registration started a little before 5 p.m. in Kelly Engineering Center (KEC). The event was catered, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a slice of pizza at American Dream, which is just across the street from KEC. Having grown up in Corvallis, American Dream holds a special place in my heart.
There were at least a hundred people milling around in the atrium of KEC before the event began. I did a few laps after registering in hopes of seeing some familiar faces, but no luck. Most of the student attendees appeared to be in their early twenties. Everyone’s name tag listed either Computer Science or Electrical and Computer Engineering. There appeared to be an even split between the two disciplines.
I expected to be walking around to tables and introducing myself, but the event was actually centered around panels in which companies and organizations talked about why you should join them. The sessions I attended were:
- Oregon State University Graduate School
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The graduate school panel was made up of three professors, two from electrical and computer engineering and two from computer science. One of the professors started off by saying that “even if you were required to come tonight, you should still consider graduate school.” It was funny to think about students being required to attend by their professors or advisors. Or maybe if they wanted free food they had to go to at least one panel. I don’t know. Anyway, it all made me feel like a real keener.
It was also striking to sit in front of a professor in a classroom, something I haven’t done in almost eight years, despite having taken nine university classes. If I had a question I could just raise my hand and ask. No Piazza, no emails. Amazing!
The professors leading the panel spent most of their time trying to sell us on attending graduate school. On professor, Dr. Ben Lee, listed two major reasons to attend graduate school: covering material in more depth and making more money.
I’m not sure what my options are as a post-bacc student, but I’m looking into them.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in Richland, Washington, is one of a dozen or so Department of Energy research laboratories. They specialize in three types of research: national security, energy, and general science.
My main question for the representative, Robert Brigantic, was whether or not they hire interns, which they do. I’ll be looking into those opportunities more seriously in the next month or so.
The Garmin panel was made up of four current employees, three engineers and one person from human resources. Two of the engineers were Oregon State computer science graduates. Of all the panels I went to, Garmin appeared to be the best-prepared. They each had a short spiel and did a good job of selling Garmin as a company.
One thing that’s particularly interesting about Garmin, especially for someone interested in hardware, is that they do everything from software to design to manufacturing all on-site. They even have test pilots to test their products. Pretty cool.
Garmin offers internships, though apparently mostly through MECOP, which online students aren’t yet eligible for. I have an email out to one of their reps asking about internships outside of the MECOP.
The final panel I attended was hosted by three employees from Tektronix. They talked a bit about the company culture, the campus, and their day-to-day work.
They said they offer internships, but I don’t see any listed on their website so I’ll have to follow up.
I’m happy to say that driving down to Corvallis for Networking Night was well worth the time and effort. I left the event with several contacts and some new ideas about what I want to do after graduation. If you have the opportunity to attend, you should.