IKOM founders Barbara und Thomas Peither

“We were a fun bunch”

It’s 30 years since a bold group of dedicated students called to life the firsts IKOM careers fair. TUM Alumnus Thomas Peither and his now wife Barbara were there at the beginning.

The initiative to organize a career fair came from a group of company representatives who wanted to implement their own concept. They had already done this with students in Aachen and Darmstadt – because without students they couldn’t get a foot in the door of the university. “But we wanted to make our own rules and in particular give local companies a chance,” Thomas Peither recalls (degree in Mechanical Engineering, 1990). “It was 1988. We were a fun bunch of students from the Mechanical Engineering faculty who were working to complete their studies and looking for perspectives for the future.” Many of them still know one another and meet today – his wife Barbara Peither, née Rothkopf (degree in Mechanical Engineering, 1990), was also involved in the organization.

26 exhibitors

And so, a dozen or so student representatives got to work themselves. The organizers of that time are still networked well today, including Ursula Feulner, Brigitte Zipper, Hubert Aunkofer, Thorsten Schlicht, Markus Wächter, Peter Weber, Thomas Lang (all with degrees in Mechanical Engineering) and Christian Jarosch (degree in Architecture). They organized a location and booth builders, recruited companies, wrote invoices, took care of advertising, designed the logo, which is still recognizable today, and organized accompanying lecture series.

With 26 exhibitors, Thomas Peither was able to open the 1st IKOM in 1989. “I had a dull feeling in my stomach when I was asked to speak the opening words”. The event in the foyer and on the 1st floor of the northern site on Theresienstrasse, where IKOM was held at the time, was a complete success right from the outset. Getting a look at the practical side of things was interesting and attracted hundreds of students. “More than anything else, I really liked the energy and imagination that the idea of this trade fair released in everyone,” says co-initiator and TUM Alumna Brigitte Zipper. “With a lot of effort, some personal contacts and a great deal of diligence, we put together a great trade fair. That made me personally very proud and happy”.

A variety of experiences

What advice would Thomas Peither give today’s students? “Don’t take yourself so seriously. Professional and private satisfaction is only possible in the right environment. Anyone who is grateful for their environment and help others to develop will rarely have to worry about their future. I am thankful that I was able to have a lot of extra-curricular experiences at TUM. That probably influenced my life just as much as lectures did”. After completing their studies, Barbara and Thomas Peither worked in different industrial companies before they set up a publisher together in 1999. Today it publishes the standard reference works for the pharmaceutical industry.

Today, 30 years later, around 100 TUM volunteer students organize four career fairs and other free events each year to promote personal contact between students, Alumni and companies. In addition to the large career fair, which takes place every June in the building of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering on the Garching campus, TUM also holds its own smaller fairs for jobs in the fields of construction and life sciences. Since last year, the students have also been awarding the IKOM Award to companies that have lived up to their corporate responsibility as future employers. First prize winner 2018: TUM Alumnus Andreas Duschl (degree in Electrical Engineering and IT, 2001) and his family business.