Kelly Freed, a Stevens Institute of Technology computer science major, was searching for internship opportunities when the university’s Career Center approached her with an intriguing offer: travel with the Stevens team to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest event for women computer scientists. In return, a Stevens career advisor would coach and guide her during networking portions of the conference.
After agreeing and meeting with some two dozen recruiters at the event, Freed applied for a coveted summer internship with Microsoft. The following summer she found herself on the Seattle-area campus of the software giant, contributing daily to business decisions.
“To be walking around the halls of Microsoft, as a computing person, was unbelievable,” she recalls. “And I was handed responsibility for managing actual features being tested worldwide.”
When the internship concluded, Microsoft immediately offered Freed a full-time role with the company — where she continues, five years later, rising through its ranks as a program manager in artificial intelligence services and applications.
Freed’s story and pathway are typical of Stevens graduates. In a relatively brief period of time, the university has vaulted to top ranks in national metrics of both ROI and mid-career earnings, according to the salary consultancy PayScale.
According to a June 2018 Forbes report, Stevens has also risen to a remarkable second-best in the U.S. for gender pay equity: a measure of the relative post-graduation earnings of women compared with those of men, calculated from U.S. Department of Education data. Newly graduated Stevens women out-earned their male counterparts in 2017, one of only two schools in the nation where that happened.
“Stevens students have that baseline of technical skills that we’re looking for,” notes Michele Kotler, a campus recruiter for global accounting and consulting firm EY. “There’s a big need in business for that kind of talent right now. As a result, more and more practices are looking to recruit from Stevens each year.”
“Stevens does a very good job at preparing students to go out into the world,” agrees Michele Huk, a manager of research and engineering at the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), citing the exceptional maturity of Stevens graduates. “We’ve had great success with them.”
Co-ops and internships, high tech, personal attention
So how are Stevens graduates separating themselves from the pack?
“The university creates an entire culture that produces student post-graduation satisfaction and success,” explains Lynn Insley, executive director of Stevens’ award-winning Career Center. “It begins with a unique, technology-driven curriculum; our fantastic location on the banks of the Hudson, with Manhattan just minutes away; and our exceptional students. Then we step in and provide guidance to help ensure students realize their dreams and attain their desired outcomes.”
That guidance includes:
- One-to-one contact. “Students can drop in nearly anytime during business hours — for example, when suddenly receiving an interview call for the next day. Our open-door services are exceptionally flexible and generous.”
- A personalized approach. “You need to meet students where they are," notes Insley. A student in the College of Arts & Letters will have very different goals, priorities and needs from an engineering student.”
- Embracing the technology. The Career Center has been an early and proactive adopter of digital tools including a network of more than 900,000 recruiters utilized by every Fortune 500 company; a leading career readiness assessment product; and a new platform that effectively analyzes and enhances resumes.
- Four career fairs per academic year. Employers conduct more than 2,600 on-campus interviews at Stevens on average each year.
Recruiters and graduates also point to the university’s exceptionally robust co-op and internship programs as key in preparing graduates to stand out in job interviews — then contribute in the professional environment, right out of the gate, once hired.
“Year in and year out, students at Stevens Institute of Technology have proven to be successful in Prudential’s Summer Internship Experience,” notes Stephen Najemian, creator and manager of the insurance and investment management firm’s Technology Internship Program. “They make immediate impacts.”
More than 80% of Stevens’ undergraduates actively choose to participate in either the 5-year Cooperative Education Program (alternating semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid, full-time work) or the Internship Program.
A majority of students who complete a co-op or internship at Stevens then receive — and choose to accept — full-time position offers from those same companies. Overall, a remarkable 96% of Stevens’ graduates achieve their desired outcome within six months of graduation.
“We find our students do obtain maximum value from their internships during these focused semesters of work, leveraging their classroom learning,“ notes Insley. “This helps them stand out to recruiters and then become highly valued contributors.”
Students like Christina McDonald, who traveled to Australia to gain an immersive internship experience at a healthcare startup in that country.
“Whether I was helping to create a database of FDA certification documents, learning to code in Python and HTML, making phone calls to customers or training interns… I had a hand in just about every part of the business,” she recalls.
Or Lucas Gallo, who found himself juggling five projects in the Manhattan offices of Cheddar, the financial news startup that soon rapidly soared to national prominence.
Sean Vazquez, a software engineer for American Express, learned first-hand how Stevens prepares students to thrive as a student — then later returned to campus to recruit for AmEx.
“The best thing Stevens teaches you is how to learn, and learn well for years to come,” Vazquez says, noting agility is a key trait expected of new hires.
“Companies value soft skills and outside-the-box thinking more than ever,” concludes Insley. “Stevens teaches these skills through our curriculum, co-op assignments, internships and career coaching. And we constantly create new partnerships with employers, both to expand access to employment and to stay current with the most exciting, emerging opportunities for our talented graduates.”
For more information on Stevens career services and postgraduate outcomes, visit stevens.edu/success.