Q&A with SC22 Job Fair Chair Kate Carter

By Tiffany Trader

November 8, 2022

Everyone knows about the workforce challenges in high-performance computing. Whether from the candidate’s point of view or from the perspective of the academic, lab and vendor institutions, it’s important to find the right fit. SC22, which takes place next week (Nov. 13-18) in Dallas, is hosting a job fair to help make these career connections. Nearly 40 companies have signed up to participate so far. Job Fair Chair Kate Carter explains what it’s all about. As lead talent acquisition partner for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Carter is well aligned for the role.

HPCwire: Hi Kate – there’s going to be a Job Fair at SC22 – how does it work and who is invited to participate?

Kate Carter

Kate Carter: This year the job fair is open to all levels ranging from students and postdocs, to mid and senior level professionals. Although not a requirement, we are encouraging job seekers to upload a resume or CV to the job fair website. Resumes and CVs will then be provided to the registered companies participating. Companies are also posting jobs on the job fair website, running through the end of January 2023.

We have also included logos and web links of the companies participating, along with a recruiter contact name and email. The intent is to provide an opportunity for job seekers to have a point of contact with the participating companies in the event that they are not able to make it to the job fair in person, or if they wish to explore jobs confidentially with that organization.

HPCwire: So job seekers can still participate if they aren’t able to attend Dallas in person?

Carter: New this year, the job fair will be located on the exhibit floor, providing more visibility and an anticipated increase in traffic. Those that are not able to attend SC22 in person are still encouraged to complete an application and upload a resume/CV to be shared with employers. They may also view and apply to open positions on the job board, and also reach out to the employer contacts via the job fair website. This will create an opportunity for more individuals in the HPC community to participate, whether at the conference in person or virtually.

HPCwire: What is the back-story behind the SC Job Fair and how you got involved?

Carter: I have been representing the organization that I work for, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, at the SC Job Fair for several years. The job fair at SC has always been a great recruiting opportunity for us. It’s really a great place to find a concentrated group of candidates with skills tied to HPC.

HPCwire: The workforce issue has perennially been one of the top challenges in HPC but in the last few events I’ve attended (in-person and virtually), it’s gotten more attention than ever. Can you speak to the challenge? Either from your organization’s viewpoint, your own – or both.

Carter: As the HPC community has grown, I have definitely seen a greater demand for qualified technical staff in this space. The job fair and recruitment opportunities at the last two SCs has been limited for sure, with the conference being primarily virtual. Attendance is way up this year, so that is very exciting.

HPCwire: As a talent acquisition professional, what is your high-level guidance on how to address the issue?

Carter: The past year has been extremely challenging for many companies, as we moved through the period known as “The Great Resignation.” Workers were leaving their jobs at a high rate to pursue higher paying roles, more challenging and innovative roles, and things like shorter commutes and better work-life balance. It was also an opportunity, though, for companies to recruit new talent to bring in new ideas and perspectives.

HPCwire: We have seen increased focus on DEI – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – in tech and academic spaces. Is bolstering and supporting DEI part of the mission of the SC Job Fair?

Carter: Absolutely. Opening the job fair not just to students, but all level of professionals, and situated on the expo floor hall creates a more inclusive environment open to all. The job fair will have an open floor plan where, preregistration is not required so individuals visiting the Exhibit booths can also easily walk up and speak to recruiters and hiring managers in the same venue, evenif it’s just to exchange some business cards.

HPCwire: How does DEI intersect with a robust workforce outreach effort?

Carter: I think companies seeking more diverse workforces have had to rethink their recruiting outreach efforts. Some of the traditional recruiting methods, like placing job posting ads, and referral programs may not be enough to produce broader, diverse applicant pools. Companies are realizing that it is going to take more time and effort, with a focus on building relationships, and developing pipelining programs to grow the technical staff with the skillsets necessary to meet their needs down the line. The returns of their efforts may not be seen immediately.

HPCwire: Are there synergies between the Job Fair and other SC programs, such as the Student Volunteer program and the Student Cluster Competition program, for example?

Carter: Yes. I think that all of these programs, at their core, focus on developing the technical staff that companies need, some immediate and some for future.

HPCwire: Beyond the Job Fair, what words of advice do you have for those attending SC primarily for the career networking opportunities?

Carter: I would like to encourage attendees to utilize the Job Fair as a way to broaden their networks. Even if they are not seeking to make a job change right now, it is a great way to build connections for the future.

HPCwire: Similarly, what is your advice for the organizations and companies looking to connect with talent?

Carter: The SC conference is one of the top conferences to make connections with individuals (active and passive job seekers) with in the HPC community. Aside from the job fair, the conference offers so many other networking opportunities. I know for me, as a recruiting professional in HPC, I have found SC to be one of the best places to make the kind of connections I need, at all skill levels.

HPCwire: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers not already asked?

Carter: I hope the changes we have made around the Job Fair this year provides an opportunity to continue to grow the program and make the Job Fair a greater focal point at SC.

Bio: Kate Carter is a Senior Talent Acquisition Partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the largest multi-program science and technology laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy.  She has over 20 years of recruiting experience with the last 13 years focused on R&D and technical positions within High-Performance Computing while at ORNL . 

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