Some 200 Employers Will Attend NJIT Spring Career Fair

The Spring 2016 Career Fair will unite hundreds of recruiters and thousands of students.

If you’re an NJIT student looking for a job, you are in luck: More than 200 employers will attend the Spring Career Fair, the largest ever at NJIT. Some 350 recruiters will interview students for summer internships, co-ops and full-time jobs during the career fair, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m in the Fleisher Athletic Center and the Naimoli Tennis Center.

The market for college graduates has broadened this year, and starting salaries for graduates are at the highest level in more than a decade, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Unemployment rates for young college graduates have dropped while the majors offered at NJIT are in high demand. In fact, eight of 10 of the highest-paying jobs are in engineering majors, with chemical engineers leading the way with a median starting salary of $70,000, the report said. And the demand for information-technology and computer-related majors remains strong, says Greg Mass, executive director of Career Development Services.

“Our career fairs keep getting bigger because NJIT is a nationally-ranked STEM  [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] university and those majors are especially sought after,” adds Mass. “We’ve also seen a real uptick in the design and build industry, especially in commercial building and infrastructure.”

As a result, the many fields associated with construction and building are also growing. So students majoring in architecture, design, civil engineering, construction engineering technology as well as mechanical and electrical engineering should all find jobs in this economy, Mass says. There’s also a strong demand in the insurance, finance and health industries for business and data analysts -- jobs well suited to students majoring in business, math or engineering. 

NJIT’s career fair is the largest technologically focused fair in the metro region. The fair is already at capacity, with 20 companies on a waiting list. And a week ahead of Feb. 24, more than 1,300 students had pre-registered for the fair. Overall, about 3,000 students and alumni are expected to attend. Click here to see a video of a previous NJIT career fair.

The hiring news is equally good for freshmen and sophomores who plan to attend the fair. Nearly two-thirds of the employers said they have internship and co-op openings to fill.  Companies are increasingly hiring younger students to work as interns, Mass explains. And if a student does well on an internship, the companies will often hire him or her for a full-time job.

“There’s an emerging hiring trend that has garnered national attention this year,” says Mass, “and it’s called ‘recruit once, hire twice.’” 

The phrase refers to employers who recruit interns and hire them again as full-time employees. While this hiring strategy has been in place for decades, it has recently escalated, with some NJIT interns receiving job offers even a year before they graduate.

That’s precisely what happened to Richard Polanco, a senior who majors in information technology with a concentration in network and Internet security. Last year, Polanco attended the Society for Hispanic and Professional Engineers (SHPE) national conference in Detroit. The conference included a career fair that attracted major corporations. Polanco interviewed with a manager from Cisco, one the largest IT companies in Silicon Valley. The manager offered him a summer internship at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose, California. Polanco excelled on the internship. So much so that before he finished his internship, Cisco offered him a job working as a software engineer in San Jose--a job he’ll start after he graduates in May 2016.

“You have no idea how good it feels to have secured a job a full year before graduation,” says Polanco. “It has been one of my greatest accomplishments and takes a lot of stress off me. I'm planning on moving to Silicon Valley right after I graduate to start at Cisco and I could not be happier.”

Sagar Sood, a computer science major, had a similar job experience. Last year, he had an internship at Hearst, one of the nation's largest media, information and technology companies. He did well on the internship and before he graduated Hearst offered him a full-time job.

“I’ve been working with Hearst Corporation since June 2015 and I’ve have already built things that are being used by a large Internet audience,” says Sood, who is now doing a master’s in Information Systems at NJIT. “I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to develop my skills. Looking back, NJIT definitely provided me with great opportunities to help start my career.”

And consider the case of Kim Lam, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering in the Albert Dorman Honors College. She has a 4.0 GPA and is president of the NJIT chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. During the Fall 2014 Career Fair, Lam was offered an internship at Lockheed Martin, one of the nation’s largest defense-contractors. She was placed in the Systems Engineering, Weapon Control Systems Department. Just after her internship, Lockheed Martin offered her a full-time job as an associate member engineer, a job she’ll start right after she graduates in May 2016. She had her job lined up a full nine months before she graduates.  

“I received the offer at the end of the summer, a few weeks following my internship,” Lam said. “The summer internship was basically a 10-week interview for a full-time position -- and it worked!”

Another great aspect of the career fair -- for students -- is that many of the recruiters are NJIT graduates. About half of the employers at the fair will have some alumni representation at their tables, says Mass, which makes it easier for students to develop a rapport with the recruiters, who know full well the value of an NJIT education in that they were educated here. And they know firsthand how helpful it is professionally to have studied at NJIT, which is ranked nationally for the success of its graduates. Last summer, the Brookings Institution reported that NJIT was one of the nation’s top 10 schools that “… provided the greatest NJIT graduatevalue-added boost to their alumni in the occupational earnings power category.”

The alumni connection notwithstanding, says Mass, the best way for students to succeed at the career fair is to prepare. They should refine their resumes and their attire and visit the list of employers on the CDS website. Students should research the employers and make a shortlist of about a dozen firms whose tables they want to visit. The career center has introduced a mobile-friendly directory -- the Career Fair Navigator -- that lets students use their cell phones to search the 200 employers attending the fair. The navigator shows the employers’ job openings and which students, selected by major, they prefer to interview. And finally in terms of prepping, before coming to the fair students must perfect their “elevator pitch,” a short summation of the skills they possess and how those skills will benefit the employer.  

“You don’t have much time with recruiters,” says Mass, “so you must encapsulate your skills in an ‘elevator pitch,’ a quick yet emphatic overview of your skills, experience and education. If you do that well, and if you do your research, you should come out of the career fair with something worthwhile.”

By Robert Florida (robert.florida@njit.edu)