While NJIT has received various high rankings with regards to return on investment and student starting salary, there is still plenty of improvement to be made. Career Development Services (CDS) at NJIT needs to play a more fundamental role in connecting students with alumni.
Having a Greater Variety of Majors Being Sought for Internships
CDS at NJIT does an excellent job of providing students with workshops that assist with professional development—these include resume writing workshops and interviewing practice sessions. Students can also stop by the department during business hours for personalized assistance from an advisor. Students also have the opportunity to meet recruiters from top notch companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Stryker, and Colgate-Palmolive. These companies in particular are some of most common companies that recruit students for co-ops, internships, and fulltime employment. However, these recruiters are seeking students for specific skill sets such as supply chain management, programming and engineering. While NJIT is a school that caters specifically to STEM majors, there are still students pursuing degrees in other disciplines, and they should have just as competitive opportunities available to them. By giving students of other disciplines an easier opportunity to meet recruiters from major companies directly seeking students with non-STEM skill sets, NJIT will assist with improving not only student employment rates but also students’ relationships with CDS.
Improving the Career Fair Experience
Every semester, NJIT always brings over a hundred recruiters from a wide array of companies to the biannual Career Fair. CDS does a great job with providing students a list of companies, their table location, desired majors sought, and types of employment openings available. However, specific companies and their teams are only looking for students of certain academic standings (i.e. graduate versus undergraduate, junior credit standing versus senior credit standing) to fill positions with specific experiences.
I am a student studying biology with a minor in communications personally looking to gain experience with marketing and communications. I stopped by L’Oreal’s table because the guide said they were seeking students with my major for internships. After forty-five minutes of waiting, I was told informed by a young female recruiter at the table that the team was only seeking students for supply chain management positions. The recruiter then took my resume and explained that it could, however, be passed on to other departments. She then slipped it into the bottom of the pile. This leads me to truly wonder if the recruiter will actually make the effort to pass on my resume. Experiences such as these discourage students. If the guide explicitly stated that the company was only seeking students for supply chain management positions, then I could have spent that time speaking to other recruiters for potential spring internships. In order to prevent daunting long lines in front of recruiters and their tables, having more specific information with regards to what recruiters are seeking will help students truly determine which lines they should be waiting in. This would help make the Career Fair a more efficient experience, too.
NJIT Career Development Services Should be Actively Facilitating Relationships with Alumni to Maximize Opportunities Available to Students
Alumni and students should be actively networking to reinforce the strength and value of the NJIT degree among employers. Alumni and students can connect with each other on LinkedIn. However a more effective way of ensuring that these relationships occur are by having more networking events for students seeking internships to attend. Alumni Relations and Career Development Services should be coordinating networking dinners and events for students seeking internships and full time jobs to attend. The Honors College and EOP should also be reaching out to their valuable alumni networks in their respective cohorts to assist with reinforcing connections and university ties as well. This could also be beneficial to alumni who may still be unemployed or recently laid off.
While certain companies such as AECOM and IBM have strong ties to NJIT alumni, there are various other big name companies in less technical disciplines that still need to establish their networks. For the first time, HBO came to NJIT’s Career Fair, and it was a big hit; the lines were long. By spreading and diversifying the various industries NJIT alumni establish themselves in, this will increase the prominence of NJIT as a brand name, and will assist with national rankings because of school reputation among employers.
Along with an increased number of alumni networking opportunities, CDS should be continuously reaching out to students and alumni alike, asking them to report their employment opportunities. This will allow alumni employers to assist CDS in helping students obtain employment, and in turn this also increases the reputation and reliability of CDS on campus.
Students Should Be Seeking Other Options
At the end of the day, however, it is ultimately up to the student or employment seeker to make the most of the opportunities available to them—both on campus and off campus. As a senior graduating in May, I am actively looking for an internship for my last semester at NJIT that will hopefully lead to full-time employment after graduation. With this in mind, my reliance and relationship with Career Development Services (CDS) will be greater than ever, but it is important to have other back up options in mind. If a student is looking to gain specific experience in a company that requires an internal referral, talking to professors and advisors and asking if they may know any alumni that can help is important too.
There are various avenues to obtain internships and post-graduation employment aside from on campus resources such as professors, advisors, and CDS. Students should be looking at online job portals such as Indeed, Internmatch, and The Muse to apply for internships and jobs that may not be posted by CDS Link. There are still so many opportunities for employment available to students—sometimes all it takes is patience, perseverance, and the willingness to be flexible and to take risks as necessary to foster professional development.