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CPE to Offer Speed Interview Session to IT Professionals Aug. 4

Midcareer IT professionals take part in a speed interview session with premier New Jersey companies at NJIT July 28.

upSKILL, a U.S. Department of Labor-funded consortium led by NJIT, Rutgers-Newark and four north Jersey community college partners held the second of three speed interview sessions July 28. The third session will take place Aug. 4 in the Campus Center Atrium from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

upSKILL provides free training in emerging technologies and project management that expands and enhances the value of the participants, who are currently unemployed but typically have five to 25 years of previous technical and managerial experience. More than 90 percent of the participants are college graduates, and many have at least one advanced degree. 

The federal grant that funds the program requires that all participants are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents, live in New Jersey and have successfully completed an upSKILL course or certificate program. Altogether, through the grant, upSKILL has trained over 450 such individuals, and the vast majority of them selected to take their training from NJIT Continuing Professional Education (CPE) classes.

Like the speed interviews that took place July 28, the upcoming Aug. 4 session is designed to introduce a much larger group of graduates of upSKILL courses and certificate programs to 15 companies that include both large and mid-sized employers (Colgate-Palmolive, JPMorgan Chase, Selective Insurance Group), consulting firms and recruiters (Adecco, Robert Half). These specific companies are leaders in various aspects of the IT industry and together represent some 100 open positions. 

The speed interviews are 10 minutes long, offering participants five minutes to identify their relevant strengths and accomplishments. The companies have the remaining five minutes to ask probing questions.

The goal of the interviews is to determine which and how many participants will be invited to companies for traditional follow-up interviews. Ninety-five participants registered for the sessions. Participants are encouraged to interview with multiple companies to increase their potential callbacks and, ultimately, land jobs that are a step toward meaningful careers.

“This event allows us to put people with varied backgrounds in IT—programmers, analysts, project managers, database specialists—in front of high level industry executives that they can’t get access to on their own,” says Bob Hoberman, upSKILL’s placement manager and organizer of the speed interviewing sessions. “If they were to apply for these jobs on their own, they would start out with very low-level screeners. We have people here who are vice presidents of companies and in charge of talent management departments. We cut through all the layers, and introduce the participants to the people who can recommend that they be hired or hire them. It’s a very valuable approach that has been very successful.”

After the first speed interview session in May, companies reported back that the NJIT upSKILL talent pool “far surpassed both job seekers at job fairs and their own large recruiting programs.” More than half of the candidates interviewed in May have been called back for second interviews, several have been hired and several more are anticipating offer letters. 

“upSKILL graduates now hold significant IT positions in more than 10 New York area companies,” shares Hoberman. “Prudential hired someone from the last program as their new director of cybersecurity. These are significant, full-time jobs in IT with starting salaries of $120,000 and up—plus a bonus.”

Hoberman was thrilled a few days ago when one of the recent upSKILL graduates called him to say she couldn’t make the speed interview session because she landed a business analyst job with the state of New Jersey.

“With a grant and backing from the government, we’ve been able to take a diverse group of people who are out of work—midcareer IT professionals—and teach them new skills to get back in the job market,” says Gale Spak, associate vice president of NJIT’s CPE division and principal investigator on the $5 million grant. “It’s a great feeling to be able to help them and see them go on to be successful.”

While registration for job seekers has already closed, upSKILL is still actively seeking more companies interested in speaking with this unique group of talented midcareer IT specialists at the speed interview session Aug. 4. For additional information, please contact Bob Hoberman at robert.s.hoberman@njit.edu.

By Shydale James
sjames@njit.edu