Feature Stories

NJIT Hosts Largest-Ever Spring Career Fair

Tessy Thomas, who had two internships with Proctor & Gamble, is pictured with the P&G CEO Robert McDonald.

Tessy Thomas has already had two internships. And now she wants a third. 

Internships are awesome, says Tessy, a chemistry major who has twice interned at Proctor & Gamble. During her internships, she got to apply her classroom knowledge to real-life projects.  For one project, she helped formulate a new mascara for Cover Girl Cosmetics, which is owned by P&G. Though she was just a junior then, her colleagues involved her in all aspects of creating the new mascara.

“I saw a consumer product develop through all its stages,” says Tessy, a senior in the Albert Dorman Honors College who is president of the NJIT Student Senate.  “The internship also helped me see how my major, chemistry, works in the real world. I got to network with engineers and managers at the company and even meet the CEO.”

Tessy will be a keynote speaker during the Spring Career, Co-op and Internship Fair. More than 160 employers will attend the spring career fair, the largest ever at NJIT.  To accommodate all those employers, the fair will be held in two locations: the Fleisher Athletic Center and the Naimoli Athletic Center. In her talk, Tessy will discuss the value of internships. And after she speaks, she’ll attend the fair and interview with pharmaceutical and chemical companies -- hoping to get a third internship. 

Recruiters will interview May graduates for full-time jobs, as usual. But what’s unusual about this fair is this: Most recruiters will interview underclassmen, freshmen and sophomores, for well-paying internships and co-ops. A co-op is akin to a paid internship but often lasts longer -- three to eight months. Co-ops also offer students academic credit for their work. Some students take a semester off for a co-op while others work while taking classes.  Most students who succeed in co-ops get full-time job offers.

In a competitive job market, increasing numbers of first-and-second year students want to work internships and co-ops. And conversely companies are eager to hire NJIT students since they possess advanced technological skills, says Gregory Mass, executive director of the Career Development Services (CDS) office.

“The trend at many colleges is for students to work as unpaid interns,” says Mass. “And I’ve read stories about parents who hire third-party firms to find internships for their sons and daughters. That’s not the case at NJIT. Employers know and value the technological skills our students possess and pay them appropriately for it.”

The CDS office works doggedly to help students find jobs. Each year, the office hosts two career fairs at NJIT. The fairs are highly successful.  Last year, for instance, nearly 20 percent of NJIT’s May 2011 graduates reported finding jobs through the career fairs. CDS career counselors work individually with students to ensure they have good resumes, solid interviewing skills and focused job-searching strategies.

CDS also develops and maintains close ties with major employers. Each year those employers send thousands of job listings to CDS. The jobs are posted on CDS Online, its job database. Counselors also host on-campus recruiting, where employers come to campus throughout the year to interview students for full-time jobs. Most of those on-campus interviews translate into job offers and many students are hired for leadership development programs, which groom them to be managers.

Increasingly, employers expect graduating students to have work experience, says Mass.  And the best way to get that experience is through internships.  Students get many valuable things out of internships, adds Mass.  As in the case of Tessy, they get to work in their field, or major, and see if like it. They get paid well -- an average of $15 to $25 dollars an hour -- which reduces their debt and keeps loans at bay.  And when they succeed on internships, employers commonly re-hire them for a second summer and then for full time jobs.  In the end, it all comes down to gaining work experience.

“And the best way for students to get experience is to work internships or co-ops,” adds Mass. “Most of the employers are coming to the spring career for exactly that reason -- to hire interns and co-ops.  It’s a great opportunity for our students to get a leg up on their careers.”

(By Robert Florida)