If you are a student and you are considering attending NJIT, check out NJIT’s Career Development Center (CDC) http://www.njit.edu/cds/ with the mission to help students find great jobs. Hundreds of top companies from around the region come to CDC’s biannual fairs to recruit. CDC also helps students find internships and part-time jobs (co-ops) at these firms.
Sunil Saigal, dean of Newark College of Engineering (NCE) at NJIT feels that CDC is of utmost importance to prepare students to become global leaders in science and technology. After graduation, NJIT students have an edge competing with students from around the world in top engineering and technology jobs. What’s that edge? Learn more below from Saigal in an exclusive interview.
Why is it important for prospective students to know that NJIT has an effective career center?
Prospective students and their parents are more consumer-oriented today. They view the value of a college education through practical eyes. After paying four years of tuition, parents want assurance that their children will find well-paying careers. That’s what CDC prepares students to get: great jobs. CDC preps students by helping them edit resumes, refine career plans and learn interviewing skills including dressing and speaking properly, giving strong presentations and more.
Hundreds of major companies regularly recruit at NJIT during career fairs or afterwards at special recruiting sessions. CDC doesn’t wait until students are seniors. Rather, CDC helps starting freshman year, so that students can get the best internships and co-op jobs. When hiring later, companies value this experience. Some 600 students annually participate in NJIT’s co-op and internship programs.
How does the Center benefit NCE and the university at large?
Recently I was on a fundraising trip in North Carolina, meeting with NCE alumni. I attended a baseball game and afterwards, an NCE graduate inquired about Greg Mass, CDC Director. Why did he ask? Because Mass personally helped this grad find his first job. The story illustrates the importance of CDC. If you graduated from a university and its career services office helped you find a good job – wouldn’t you feel a sense of gratitude? And when grads feel a sense of gratitude it’s more likely that they will become engaged alumni. It’s a relationship that comes full circle. We get good students. We help them get great jobs. And then, when they are established in their careers, they support NJIT’s NCE. Many graduates are also in the position to hire students and they’ll look to hire our students. That’s what I mean by things coming full circle.
Are NCE students serious about their careers?
NJIT students are serious. They are focused and eager to get their degrees and begin their careers. It’s only natural that NCE be supported by a great CDC office. If students come here, study hard, work internships and maintain high GPAs, they want their hard work to pay-off, and the pay-off is a lucrative and creative career. NJIT graduates do well on the job market. I’m hearing now about the great jobs graduating seniors have landed. That’s the outcome students want.
How important is it for students to work co-op jobs and internships?
Employers want to hire students who have work experience, students who already have a strong work ethic and know what is expected. And co-ops and internships are ways to obtain experience. They are invaluable in that regard. Co-ops and internships are also times for students to make mistakes and learn. It’s always better to make mistakes during an internship, than a first job.
Employers recognize that students learn much from a co-operative learning experience or internship. In addition, these jobs help students refine their interests. A student might think she likes architecture but after working a summer internship at an architectural firm, she might realize she prefers engineering. She then can switch her major and refine her career goals.
What are your thoughts on having NCE students do community service, also called service learning?
America is not producing enough engineers because engineers have not been as visible in the community as they should be. Our students should be out in their communities, helping people. People need to know that engineers solve community problems and improve society. Our biomedical engineering students, for instance, are doing research to help children with disabilities. Our civil engineering students study ways to improve infrastructure problems. One volunteer student group, Engineers Without Borders, is developing a water purification system for a poor village in Haiti. The villagers are growing ill from drinking contaminated water. The purification system will prevent them from getting sick. The students learn how to do a real engineering project—great experience—at the same time that they help people in need.
Would you like to have all NCE students work on a service learning project?
If people see the important work engineers do, they’ll have a higher regard for engineering. Then, maybe, more students will chose to study it. Students learn so much about the real world from community service: how to pick a project, finance it, team work and problem solving. Community service teaches students how to apply classroom learning.
You’ve witnessed at least two NJIT career fairs. What’s your impression?
During my career, I’ve been at five universities, some of which, like Carnegie Mellon and Purdue universities, are much bigger schools than NJIT. But NJIT career fairs are infinitely better: More major companies attend, more students participate and, in my opinion, the fairs are run more professionally.
What does NCE learn from the companies that come here to recruit?
The companies tell us what they need. Knowing this insures we teach the most sought-after skills. And the close relationships with hundreds of major employers keep teachers updated. It’s a circular relationship. The university gives companies great young employees and the companies keep us informed about major engineering and technological trends. Everyone is happy.