Career Center debuts STEM Slam

Top recruiters pitch their businesses in 45 seconds; new format connects students and employers

Career Center Director Mark Smith introduces STEM slam, a new event where recruiters get 45 seconds to pitch their businesses.

So here’s the good news — as Washington University in St. Louis’ reputation grows, so does the annual Fall Career Fair. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, recruiters from more than 100 top enterprises will meet with some 1,000 students about jobs and internships.

Unfortunately, that’s the bad news, too.

“In some ways we are victims of our own success,” said Associate Vice Chancellor Mark Smith, who leads the Career Center. “When you’ve got this many top employers and students, it can be overwhelming. It’s intimidating for students. And for recruiters — I’ve been there — you feel like a can of peas on a shelf. Students just walk by and look at you.”

To better connect students and employers, the Career Center has come up with a new concept, “the slam.” It works like this — 20 employers line up before a small audience of students. Each one gets exactly 45 seconds to pitch their business. Afterward, students learn more about the businesses that interest them most.

Associate Director Jennie Marchal proposed the idea of the slams last spring.

“It’s a different way of doing things,” Smith said. “Employers want to tell their story, and they’re using social media and other platforms to do that. But this is, in a way, a step backwards — ‘Let’s just talk. I’m telling you what we do and why you would like to work here.’ It’s a pretty old-fashioned notion.”

Tuesday, Sept. 17, the Career Center will host a STEM Slam featuring speakers from top businesses such as Microsoft and Accenture. All students are invited, not just engineering and science majors.

Recruiters pitched to students at the Career Center’s pilot slam last spring. (Credit: Sid Hastings/WUSTL Photos)

“There may be technology companies there who need graphic designers and human resources employees,” said Smith, who expects about 100 participants. “We’re defining STEM broadly.”

Future slams include a social impact slam Nov. 12; a diversity-focused Mosaic slam Jan. 28; and an arts and communications slam Feb. 28.

Jen Cowan, campus program manager for MasterCard Worldwide, participated in last spring’s slam. She said the program’s rapid-fire format kept the students’ attention and forced recruiters to crystallize their message.

“I had to really think long and hard about what I wanted to say,” Cowan said. “As a recruiter, I’m on college campuses a lot, and the slam made me think about how to be really engaging and leaving them wanting to learn more.”

Cowan said smaller, more focused events like the slam help recruiters find the right students.

“I think that’s the way recruiting is going,” Cowan said. “Pinpointing specific individuals and finding out what their needs are is definitely the way to go.”



What: Representatives from 20 STEM-related businesses will pitch their companies to students

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17

Where: Women’s Building Formal Lounge

Who: Registered employers include Abengoa Bioenergy, Accenture, Answers, Biotronik, Burns & McDonnell, Capital One, Deloitte, Environ, Epic, ExxonMobil, IMC Financial Markets, MasterCard, Microsoft, Morningstar, National Geospatial Agency, Netapp, Optiver, Square, Wolverine Trading

More info:

Don’t forget: Students should bring resumes. Business-casual attire recommended. A light dinner will be served.


Fall Career Fair

What: Representatives from more than 100 companies will discuss internship and job opportunities with students

When: 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18

Where: Athletic Complex

More info: