IBM made Southeastern Louisiana University its first recruiting stop after announcing plans to locate a technology center in Baton Rouge. Computer science students had the first opportunity to learn about more than 800 jobs IBM plans to hire during a recruitment fair April 10 on the Hammond campus, said IBM Recruitment Leader Michelle Szymzak.

“This project has been in the works for a while, and now that it has been announced we are aggressively hiring,” Szymzak said. “Southeastern is our first stop. We’re looking for people at all levels, some fresh out of college and others with experience.”

Students milled around Szymzak and her assistant, asking questions about the center, which will be built in downtown Baton Rouge near the river. IBM will move into temporary quarters in the city while construction goes on.

Computer Science and Industrial Technology Department Head Sebastian van Delden organized the mini-career fair after IBM contacted the university’s Office of Career Services.

“Dr. van Delden opened the doors for us in a very short period of time to help organize this event,” she said. “We’ll be speaking later to the computer science students as a group on what our plans are for the area and the job opportunities that are available.”

“The students are so excited about this opportunity, because it means hundreds of technological jobs for the region,” van Delden said. “It’s a major breakthrough for the state and has considerable potential.”

He said Southeastern has about 300 computer science students in various programs that are all nationally accredited.

“IBM is a great company, and I am definitely going to apply for a position,” said senior Andrew Williams of Ponchatoula, who will graduate in December.

“The computer science program at Southeastern has been a great experience with the relatively small class sizes and the relationships we build with our professors and other students. We gain the experience of working together in teams on projects.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and I am definitely excited,” added senior computer science major Chase Orion Dupré of Hammond. “It’s big news for the state and I definitely plan to apply.”