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In collaboration with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and Break Through Tech DC, George Mason University's College of Engineering and Computing and Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA) hosted a Computing Career Reception following the university-wide career fair on February 22.
Juniors and seniors majoring in computer science and information sciences and technology were invited to network with tech industry representatives from companies such as Appian, Brillient, and Verisign. Students and professionals networked throughout the evening, discussing areas of interest and possible fields to explore further. Christopher Chay, a junior earning a BS in computer science, discussed his interest in artificial intelligence with people from Brillient and Booz Allen Hamilton.
"It was a great experience to talk to recruiters and employers and see the kind of work they did and find any deficiencies in my knowledge and personal experience," says Chay. He adds, "I appreciated the much smaller and quieter atmosphere, as opposed to the larger STEM fair."
The Computing Career Reception was the first computing-specific career event at Mason, and its success has encouraged event organizers to plan future topic-oriented career receptions. "This year the event was held at the Center for the Arts on Mason's Fairfax Campus, but as we build our presence in Arlington, we hope to host events like this at Mason Square," said IDIA executive director Kammy Sanghera.
The Fairfax County EDA was proud to facilitate a potential employment pipeline for local tech talent. "The students at George Mason University are doing incredible work, and it's a privilege to be able to connect them with Fairfax County businesses that will give them opportunities to continue doing that caliber of work post-graduation," said Michael Batt, vice president, Talent.
Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) recognized the event as an opportunity to further strengthen northern Virginia's reputation as a hub of innovation. Jennifer Taylor, President and CEO of NVTC, suggested that connecting students with industry members at networking events like this is an important part of expanding the level of innovation that Virginia is known for. "Students are learning the important skills they need to be successful in innovation-related fields and will become a critical part of the industry after college. We help to make these connections now so students can see what is possible in the region," said Taylor.
Part of the IDIA's mission is to facilitate these connections between students and industry. "The IDIA is proud to sponsor events that allow students to connect with industry members. Our students are engaged in cutting-edge research and work that will teach them the skills necessary to thrive in innovation-related careers," said Sanghera. "Connecting our Mason campus with industry members from Fairfax County and beyond is part of our mission and creates not only important opportunities for collaborations and industry growth but opportunities for employment after graduation."