A career fair was held on the last day of BIO, June 26th, 2014 from 2 to 7 pm, at the Marriot Marquis and Marina, in one of the ballrooms at the lobby level. The room was big, but it felt really small: it was absolutely packed!
BIO volunteers in their bright orange shirts registered and welcomed the job seekers as they came in. Approximately 400-500 job seekers pre-registered, and another 300-400 registered today, all to talk with 22 exhibitors… The exhibitors were standing behind their tables and most of them were giving away candies, pens, and various gadgets.
There were two recruiting firms, Aerotek and BioPhase Solutions, an academic institution, California State University, a consulting firm, BioStrategies, the supply company VWR, and several other companies, ranging from Johnson and Johnson, to Amgen (or, rather, Oxyx), Allergan, Illumina, Dynavax, Boehringer-Ingelheim, etc. As one can imagine, the lines at Illumina and Johnson and Johnson were particularly long. Foreseeing the big demand, Illumina had many Human Resources representatives on site, all wearing a black T-shirt that said: Illumina is hiring!
There were several organizations from out of town, such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital from Tennessee, Acorda Therapeutics from New York, representatives from Research Triangle Park, AGTC from Florida, Prince Edward Island (PEI) BioAlliance from Canada, Integrated Project Management, and Wake County Economic Development.
Job seekers young and old, novice and experienced, tried to form lines at each table. All representatives were very friendly; however, they could not spend more than a few minutes with each applicant.
BIO did a great job in organizing the career fair and in posting ads on the website well ahead of the event, but the actual event was disappointing. It was my first career fair, and may also be the last. I found it chaotic, too busy, and not particularly useful, neither to find a job, nor to network. As the career fair ended at 7 pm tonight, it concluded BIO in San Diego. Next year, BIO will do it all over again in my “other US hometown” of Philadelphia!