Finding a Great Job Before Graduation: Senior Lands Job at Dow Chemical

Tara Rhett will graduate in May and has a great job already lined up with Dow Chemical.

In one day Tara Rhett got two job offers, one from Pratt & Whitney and another from Dow Chemical.  She took the latter – the offer was too hard to refuse. 

Dow hired Tara to work as a supply chain analyst -- her dream job -- and also to join its Leadership Development Program. Dow uses the program to train young employees to become executives.  Every year, for three years, Tara will rotate jobs within Dow, working directly with its managers. She’ll get an inside view of how the company operates. And if she does well, one day she’ll help direct Dow Chemical, a huge multi-national corporation.

“I had five job interviews on that day and already had an offer from Pratt & Whitney,” says Tara, senior majoring in Industrial Engineering. “I actually thought twice about going to the Dow interview.  Now I’m glad I did. Dow is interested in my professional development and I can't wait to move to Midland, Michigan to start work."

Tara got the job offers at a career fair in St. Louis sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Tara attended the fair with 22 other NJIT students, all members of the on-campus chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. And almost half of the 22 students received job offers or internships, said Tara, who is vice president of the university’s NSBE chapter.  

What is it about Tara that attracted Dow Chemical and Pratt Whitney? By her own admission, she’s not a brilliant student. But she’s diligent and willful. "In my mind, I am an average student," Tara says. "What makes me stand out is that I am hardworking and dedicated."

She’s also outgoing and gregarious and belongs to many groups at NJIT, which has given her leadership experience -- what employers look for in job candidates.  

Tara belongs, for instance, to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at NJIT and has spent her summers working with incoming EOP freshman, most recently as supervising resident assistant in a dorm for EOP students. She is close to Tony Howell, the EOP director, and says if not for him she might have transferred out of NJIT. At times, the difficulty of her studies almost made her give up.

“But Mr. Howell mentored and advised me during my four years here,” Tara says. “The morale support that he and the EOP staff give their students is amazing.”

In the end, though, Tara did it herself -- excelled academically. She holds two named scholarships at NJIT and is a National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) scholar. She did so well in EOP that she will be the keynote speaker during EOP’s annual awards ceremony. She's also a community assistant for residence life at NJIT.

Another key to Tara’s success is her major, Industrial Engineering, or really, her love for it.  When she was a freshman, she didn’t have a major in mind or a career goal or an abiding passion:  Industrial Engineering became all of that for her.  

“I absolutely love my major,” says Tara. “I’m so passionate about it. I think it’s the best major out there. We IE’s have many transferable skills. We can be managers and we can be engineers!”

One success commonly breeds another, and excelling in her major helped Tara get two co-ops: One at Toyota’s high-tech manufacturing plant in Kentucky, and another at Johnson & Johnson’s manufacturing engineering unit. She found the J&J co-op at an NJIT career fair. And that co-op work experience in turn helped her land the Dow Chemical job.  

So for Tara, everything she did at NJIT came full circle: her co-ops, her love of her major, her affiliations with EOP and NSBE -- it all resulted in her ending her academic career with a great job and a bright future.    

“I’m a Brooklyn girl and went to a public high school that didn’t prepare me for NJIT,” says Tara. “It was the many professors and staff and students here that helped me reach my true potential. I'm the first child in my family to be graduating from college, and I'm ever so grateful to my parents, to NJIT, and the many friends who have helped me along the way. I hold them all dear to my heart.”

(By Robert Florida, Office of Strategic Communications)