Engaging Employers

Engaging Employers

Physics Professor Kunal Ghosh talks with a recruiter

Engaging Employers

Carnegie Mellon University is a destination for top talent. But fielding a constant stream of requests by recruiters for one-on-one meetings with faculty and student groups can be challenging.

The Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) sets aside one day at the start of each academic year to bring all the key players — faculty, academic advisers, student organizations and CPDC staff — together with employers who want to meet them.

Now in its third year, Campus Engagement Day has earned the CPDC the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Chevron Award for innovation.

This year's Campus Engagement Day is set for Monday, Sept. 15, which coincides with many of the university's fall career fairs such as the Technical Opportunities Conference and the Business Opportunities Conference, where even more employers and students are involved. The Employment Opportunities Conference is Oct. 7, and Spark, an event for small businesses and early start-ups, is Oct. 23.

"Our goal is to bring employers to campus and have them come away knowing what makes CMU unique," said Wesley Thorne, the CPDC's associate director for employer relations. "By developing connections with key campus partners our hope is that they experience first-hand the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that is distinctively Carnegie Mellon."

Thorne and his team designed the event to help employers learn how to navigate the university's decentralized structure and increase their brand presence at the university through hackathons, project courses and research.

Last year's program brought together more than 100 individuals from 43 organizations with more than 70 CMU faculty and staff representing 41 departments. In addition, 54 leaders from 27 student organizations participated. 

"The faculty presentations on academic programs offered insight into the curriculum and their students' passions that can't be gleaned from a website or publication. I learned what the students are curious about, what motivates them, and got a sense of what they hope to gain in their careers," said Rachel Hardie, human resources director for Branding Brand, which powers mobile commerce sites and apps for the nation's top retailers.

Alison Alvarez (CS'07, TPR'16) is a senior client services analyst at Rhiza, a market analytics start-up in Shadyside. Many of Rhiza's employees are CMU alumni, including two thirds of the executive team.

According to Alvarez, Campus Engagement Day last year offered her and Rhiza's CEO Josh Knauer (DC'95) a unique opportunity to talk directly to professors and staff members. "We were able to meet face-to-face and build relationships with faculty," she said.

Campus Engagement Day begins with short introductions to each college and school, followed by in-depth roundtable discussions with academic departments.

This year's afternoon "knowledge sessions" will cover best practices for hiring international students, building an employer brand on campus, new graduate programs and peer-to-peer tips for campus recruitment. The day concludes with a student organization fair that connects recruiters with student leaders to discuss mentoring, sponsorships and employment opportunities.

Karen Stump, teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies and laboratories in the Department of Chemistry, said Campus Engagement Day gives her a chance to learn about recruiters' hiring priorities. She also participates to raise awareness of the skills Mellon College of Science students possess among employers who otherwise might not consider them as potential hires.

"MCS students pursue careers in a wide variety of industries upon graduation. This is largely because of their broad-based and well-developed skill sets in foundational areas such as problem-solving; written, oral and visual communication; computational and quantitative reasoning; and the ability to function with a high degree of independence as well as in teams," Stump said.

Michael Trick, senior associate dean for faculty and research at the Tepper School of Business, highlighted the strengths of his school's graduates at last year's event and explored partnerships for project courses. 

"It gave Tepper faculty and staff a chance to talk informally with a number of employers to find out what they are looking for, allowing us to improve the curriculum and programs we offer," Trick said.

Related Links: Career and Professional Development Center | Fall Career Fairs | Mellon College of Science | Tepper School of Business

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