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Behind the scenes of the TOC (Technical Opportunities Conference)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed the general increase in attractiveness of the men on campus, but I definitely have. I chalk it all up to the suits the boys on campus have been wearing for the past two days. It’s a whole new genre of CMU-goggles.

But the TOC is more than an excuse to have man candy parading around campus, and more than an excuse for ladies to whip out their most professional outfits. The TOC is described as “the largest job fair on Carnegie Mellon’s campus and is specifically focused on technical employment. The two-day conference attracts Carnegie Mellon’s engineering, computer science, and science students and allows recruiters from more than 200 companies to personally meet talented students interested in full-time work or summer internship positions.”

No pressure.

Flash-forward to intense resume reform (and padding), the longest of long lines, and group emails and texts about borrowing skirts, heels, blouses. This is the underbelly to the great opportunity that is the TOC.

Many underclassmen that attend this event feel like it is not catered to them. “I had to borrow my outfit from everyone, I’m in the process of buying a suit for myself right now, but we did our resumes in class which was nice. I wish it wasn’t in the middle of the school day because I missed a lot of classes,” said sophomore Sarah Dewees.

While students attending the conference are flooded with necessary preparations, many students, feeling inexperienced and inept, don’t even venture through the TOC’s doors. “It looks intimidating because those of us that haven’t had that much professional experience feel unqualified to dive right into it,” said sophomore Laavi Kumar.

Even some sophomores who do attend feel unfulfilled. When asked about her experience at the TOC, Sarah said, “I didn’t talk too much. They’re terrifying; it’s intimidating.”

However, older students understand the value of the TOC. Kristen Hauser, a junior, states that “some people think it’s just frustrating and useless because everyone just says to apply online but at the same time they could tag your resume on their website and associate you with the recruiter so that your resume is pushed to the front of the pile.” This preferential treatment especially applies to seniors. I know a lot of people who have found jobs through the TOC and have even come back this year to be recruiters.

So there it is: perhaps not the most productive experience for sophomores, but it is beneficial to get your name out there and to have experience talking to recruiters. Lucky juniors and seniors find internships and jobs. Worst case scenario, you get to feel professional in a really great suit.

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