Speed Networking with Alumni is a Rite of Spring for NJIT Students

In a much-anticipated event put on each spring by the Office of Career Development Services, alumni ranging from newly minted workers to corporate executives return to campus to share an insider’s view of the working world with NJIT seniors, offer veterans’ tips on landing a job in a desired sector, and provide intensive, hands-on interviewing experience.

At the outset, students practice in one-on-one sessions with alumni making a three-minute job pitch to a hypothetical employer, and receive feedback on how to improve it. In a networking segment that follows, the alumni are divided into industry sectors so that students seeking jobs in their arena can ask targeted questions about the knowledge and skills needed, among other information.

This year, the event, which is sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Association, drew more than 60 alumni in fields ranging from pharmaceutical engineering, to information technology, to architecture, to finance, to environmental services. Representatives from 64 companies attended, including Becton Dickinson, Johnson & Johnson, FM Global , Anheuser-Busch-InBev, Novo Nordisk, Prudential, IBM, and Hatch Mott MacDonald.

“This is a great opportunity for students to hear from people in the real world about the latest ideas and trends and to begin speaking in the vocabulary of business. It’s important not to waste that dream interview by not being prepared,” notes Jason Woodridge ‘92, the U.S. product manager for KDDI Global, a wholesale telecommunications company that buys and sell telephone minutes. “I really liked the enthusiasm of the students I met, who are clearly so motivated. It’s nice to be able to give them an edge.”

Among the recent graduates on hand to prep students were three representatives from the Class of 2013: Carlos Cocovi-Higueras, a supply chain analyst for Miele, Inc., the German appliance manufacturer; Timothy Tham, a mechanical engineer for the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC);  Mohammed Hossain, an enterprise systems analyst for Dow Jones & Company.

“We are so grateful that our alumni like to come back,” says Jane Gaertner, associate director of Career Development Services at NJIT. “They help our students develop professionally at a point in their lives when this advice is key to their future networking, which is paramount to a successful job search.”

Students call the networking event a valuable opportunity on many levels. They are able to meet alumni and hear about their fields, to learn valuable tips on getting a foothold in a particular sector, and to make connections in the working world.

 “I wanted to learn more about my career path and how to improve my resume, and also to develop marketing skills and build a new network of contacts in order to be prepared for the business world before my graduation,” recounts Diane Ingabire ’14, a business/marketing major in the School of Management who is hoping to land a job in her field of study. “But I also came away with really valuable advice. I was told that stories work really well in job interviews and are more memorable; the whole key is to match the interviewer’s questions with your stories since you are marketing yourself.”