Edulix Senior Member
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Some math on Career Fairs, 'Networking', & the Regional Vs National reputation
To the prospective students of Fall 2014 - we all are in the process of getting rejects and admits. Let's face it - most of our decision of finalizing our destination university would depend a lot on the job prospects and career opportunities. That brings us to the topic of career fairs and the important aspect of networking. I thought of making this thread to address the point of Career Fairs that we all hear so much about and Networking in general. Credits go mainly to T_O for his invaluable advice on this topic. Transcript of the conversation between me and T_O :
: When we talk about improving our networking skills, do we mean interacting with the alumni, getting to know people working in companies that we are interested in, participating in career fairs etc. ? Or is it something else that is a significant part of it?
: It's a well-known fact that participating in career fairs alone is useless. In most cases, even if you go to a career fair, even if there are say 100 employers at a career fair, the total number of employers offering jobs in your field of interest (or, hell, any tech/IT/MIS job in general) might be 40 or 50, out of which, barely 20-30 might be willing to sponsor you for an H-1B down the line. Why this is critical, is because most people assume that just because there are 100 employers coming to a career fair, there are more than enough jobs for everyone, which isn't true at all. Let me walk you through the math.
Like I said above, out of 100 employers at a career fair, assume that 20 offers roles that you are interested in, and most importantly, can apply to as an F-1 applicant wanting future H-1B sponsorship. Assume that the fair is open only to students of the hosting university, that is, your school (i.e., it's not a fair open to the general public). Now, MIS is a field where you really don't need to have an MS level degree to get jobs in, and most schools that have MS in MIS programs, also have bachelors' programs in MIS or related fields. And, even though you're an MIS major, don't forget the fact that most, if not all, MIS roles are open to, and can be done by people from other majors/programs like CS, IT, IS, and even ECE in some cases, if they have the relevant skills. Meaning, if there is someone doing her MS in ECE at the same univ as you, if she has prior IT/IS work-ex, she can apply to any MIS jobs too, at the same career fair, unless entry to the career fair is restricted only to certain majors/programs (which is generally not the case for people apart from MBA programs - which also means that even if there are MIS-type roles in MBA-specific career fairs, you cannot go and apply for them, because even though you might be in a B-school, you're not in an MBA, but they can apply to programs in your career fair). Come back to the math now. Assume that your specific MS in MIS program takes about 50 new people every sem (and to make it simple, let us assume that they're all not just from India or China, but that's the total number of incoming students - the reality is that most MIS programs take in that many Indian students alone really). At any given time, say in March 2014 (which is when many schools have their career fairs, generally held in March and October), there would be a total of 50 + 50 + 50 = 150 students just from the MS in MIS program from your own school (i.e. in March 2014, you'll have 50 students who started the MS in Fall 2013, 50 who started it in Spring 2013 and 50 who started it in Fall 2012, but haven't graduated and hence are also looking for internships - assuming we're talking about summer internships and not full-time jobs here). Now, also assume that every company that you are eligible to and want to apply to, has 2 positions each that it's hiring for (although the reality is that many times, many companies come to a school to fill up just 1 position), and since we have 20 such employers, there are a total of 40 positions. That means, imagine the competition: 150 people competing for 40 positions, just from your school. Now, let's widen the net, because the company isn't going to open up those positions just for a specific school or subset of people, so the position is going to be advertized internally on the company intranet, as well as advertized on the internet, so open to people in other schools (because we're talking about internships here, which are given to current interns in a company, or other people who'll be returning to school after the internship ends). Anyway, so assume there are 10 internal candidates interesting in the overall figure of 40 eligible jobs, and a total of other 1000 people from other univs all over the US who will apply for the same 40 positions online. So, now what's the total figure? 150 + 10 + 1000 = 1160 applications for the same 40 positions. Is that it? No, we forgot the UGs who are also eligible for the same internships because MIS roles don't really require a master's degree, so add 4 * 50 (50 incoming students every sem for the UG degree, and 4, assuming only those people who are in the last 4 sems of their UG degree can apply for those internships). Also add in the people from other majors/degrees who are also eligible to apply for the same 40 positions, say 25 MBA students and 5 students from MS in ECE/Civil/etc. with relevant work-ex. So now the total figure becomes 1160 + 25 + 200 + 5 = 1390, for a total of 40 available positions.
Now I hope you understand the scope. And that's just for internships, by the way. For full-time roles, the competition is much, much more, because there are people who're not just current interns, but current full-time employees who want to make a lateral move in the same company, or people who're not in any program. So now, instead of 1390, you might have to compete against anywhere between 1500 and 3000 other people.
That is one reason why career fairs aren't effective. Another reason, is that like the math that I have done above, even recruiters and corporate HR departments have done the same math. So, in many (if not most), career fairs, HR people/tech recruiters will accept your resume, but tell you to go online and apply anyway. So now, instead of directly competing with the other 390 people (1390 people from the above number, minus the 1000 who apply online) for the 40 roles, you'd be applying online and competing against the whole number of 1390.
#end of conversation
Networking for Dummies:
So, we all have heard of Networking per say. It is quite possibly one the most important aspect of landing up a job in the US of A. The links I have posted below is the result of the cumulative efforts of certain seniors of Edulix and the minimum we can do is to go through all of them in their entirety before posting any questions or sending any PM's to the seniors. Please realize that THEY are doing US a favor by investing their time and effort into collating information on this fantastic forum which they could have otherwise spent in playing PlayStation or re-watching Breaking Bad. I know this is a lot of reading but as a prospective Masters student, this is the least we can do for OURSELVES.
a. To start off - How to build a network
b. One of THE most important things to do if you are in a corporate environment - maintain a well updated, GRAMMATICALLY correct, well maintained, ERGONOMIC LinkedIn Profile (if possible, get a business account to improve visibility). PUHLEASE do this, for the sake of hundreds of unborn baby panda souls and yours. Why LinkedIn & How?
c. Emphasis on point 13 here - http://www.edulix.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=129797
- Post no. 7 with great insights on how to ensure your resume lands up in a company
Now that you are through these and have cursed me for making you read all these links, there is another gem of a article by T_O highlighting the difference between Commuter or Residential schools ( Also , addressing the whole point of National VS Regional reputation of schools - at the bottom).
The_Observer Wrote:Commuter Schools vs Residential Schools. Also, includes a order of preference one can use for reference to select schools based on reputation and location. Read on!! Courtesy: T_O
PLEASE read the entire post before commenting and asking the ranking of your school. If the school is already mentioned...comment will be DELETED without notice to prevent redundancy.
1) As you might have heard from me or others, the US education system is very different. People join the workforce in their teens, and many of them don't bother (or rather, cannot afford) leaving their jobs and going back to school for a bachelor's degree. So, you'll see many people in industry here in the US, who don't have any formal college education, i.e. a 4-year bachelor's degree, but they have tons of work-ex and have learned everything on the job. But, nowadays, due to the influx of highly-skilled people like us into the US job market, and the fact that only work-ex isn't enough to get many promotions in many companies, that perception is starting to change.
So what happens, is that many of those people who earlier weren't able to get into college for whatever reason (lack of money, lack of time, no interest, etc.) want to do that. In many of these cases, it's not possible for them to study full-time like you and me - so they study part-time while working full-time, i.e. they do a 9 to 5 job 5 days a week, that is 40 hours per week, and then study on the side for 1 or 2 classes every semester. At that rate they would complete a UG degree somewhere in 6-8 years. Why is this concept important to us, because in many B-school programs (especially MBA ones more than MS in MIS ones), the same thing happens. Most of these older folks with work-ex, but little or no formal college education, or a partly-completed bachelor's degrees, they generally cannot cope up with the demands of a full-time program at a "residential" univ or school.
What is a residential school, you might ask here. A "residential school" is something like Texas A&M, or IUB, which is generally NOT located in a big city, which is somewhere where most people study full-time, and in order to do that, most of them chose to stay on-campus or somewhere close to it.
The opposite concept from a "residential school", is a "commuter school", meaning a place where you commute for study, either from your home or your place of work. This term is generally applied to those univs which are located in bigger cities, and have a larger percentage of people who work full-time and study part-time, hence those who "commute" to school from their full-time work location. These schools generally try to make it easier for the full-time employees to study part-time, so they offer their programs in a variety of formats: in-class, online or hybrid (few classes in a face-to-face format but the rest conducted online via streaming video). Anyway, examples of these "commuter schools" are ones like DePaul, Loyola, Johns Hopkins, most B-schools offering MBA programs in cities/urban areas, and also other ones like UC, UNCC, UT Dallas, Univ of Arizona, UW (to some extent, meaning the schools/departments within UW that offer part-time study options), some departments within UMCP, etc.
2) Thanks for bearing with me so far. Now that you all know what a commuter school is, you know that you should expect to find people with more work-ex, and possibly, more people working and studying simultaneously. This is the key. Since more people in commuter schools like the ones mentioned above (and when I use that term, it might refer to the entire univ as a whole if the whole univ offers commuter programs or part-time programs for almost everything - such as DePaul - or for a department, such as a B-school - as is the case with most B-schools in the US, including Wharton, Columbia GSB, NYU Stern, etc) work full-time, most of them don't need help with career services. Again, to reiterate and emphasize this point: since most people in part-time programs already have full-time jobs, and because most schools know this fact and know their general target audience demographic which is part-time student, many commuter schools do not have as good a career services division as other, residential schools would generally have. Residential schools know that the bulk of their student population is made up of people who're studying there full-time, so most (if not all) of them need jobs after graduation, and hence those schools might go the extra mile to ensure they rope-in employers to visit their career fairs, or schedule on-campus info sessions, etc. Because commuter schools know that this is not something the bulk of their students need, some of them don't treat this like a priority.
Point to understand is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with attending a commuter school. If, 20 years down the line, you decide to do an MBA, why should you have to leave your cushy full-time job (especially if you're the sole breadwinner for your family) in order to go through an MBA? So, the part-time study option makes a lot of sense for many, many people. But, unfortunately, if you attend any such school where you're studying full-time and most others are not, mostly the cards are gonna be stacked up against you when it comes to getting help for stuff like career services. There's nothing you can do about it.
3) "Placements" as a concept are something that almost NO school in the US does, and that concept generally doesn't even exist. At the most, what a school would do, is call employers to hold information sessions on-campus, where they might tell you to go online and apply on their website, or collect resumes there. The 2nd option is obviously much preferable, because then you'd be directly competing against a much lesser number of people than what you were to if you'd be applying online. But, again, to reiterate, since many commuter school students (of course, excluding internationals who have to study full-time), have full-time jobs already, the necessity for the school to schedule many such info sessions or hold different career fairs isn't really there as much as for residential programs. So, there you go.
4) At the end of all this, then, where would I go? Here's my personal recommendation order (which might not work for everyone, so ask other people as well):
a) A school (residential or commuter) that is nationally well-known, located in or close to a big(-ish) city or town. Examples: UPenn, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Stanford, UChicago, V Tech, GaTech, UVA, Northwestern, UT Austin, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, etc.
b) A residential school that is nationally well-known, but not necessarily in or around or close to a big-city. Examples: IUB, UIUC, NCSU, UMass Amherst, Penn State, UC Irvine, Purdue, TAMU, many of the state schools especially located in the midwest/west coast.
c) A commuter school that is located in or around a big city, but doesn't have as much of a nationally strong rep, as those in (a) (i.e. they still do have a national rep, not just a regional one, but not equivalent to an Ivy League). Examples: GWU, NYU, Georgetown, Boston University, etc.
c2) A residential/commuter school (meaning, residential for the most part, i.e. most programs are residential, but a few are commuter ones) that fulfills almost all the criteria of ©, but have a very strong regional and a "not-quite-there-yet" national rep. Examples: Rutgers, UMCP.
d) A commuter school that is located in or around a big city, but doesn't have any or negligible rep on a national level, but a good rep on the local (regional) level. Meaning a degree from here would generally be well-received in the local area, but as you go farther away from the place where the school is at, the brand will be more and more unknown. Examples: most schools in and around the big cities like NYC, Boston, Chicago, DC, etc. Specific examples for this would include Stevens, NYU Poly, GMU, Drexel, UNCC, Boston College, DePaul, etc.
e) A residential school that has a strong local rep, but NOT located in or around an urban area or a big city or town. Example: U Kansas/Kansas State U, University of Nebraska at Lincoln/Omaha, University of Georgia (Athens), etc.
A 3rd party article on Networking Strategies :
Notice point no. 1 here?
(This post was last modified: 06-30-2015 02:17 AM by The_Observer.)