Meet the Career Services team at NYU Tandon
They’re bringing their A-game and getting A+ results
Sure — a lot of career counselors will tell you they’ve been where you’re at, but when Karine-Frédérique Loriot,* John Cardillo, and Jamie Cheng say it, they mean it quite literally. In addition to being staff members, Loriot (Associate Dean of Career Services), Cardillo (Assistant Director), and Cheng (Operations Manager and Coach), are all NYU alumni.
In Loriot’s case, her time at NYU Tandon dates back to her undergraduate days; she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business and Technology Management in 1998, and in 2015, after stints at a company aimed at providing data-based solutions to the fashion industry and at Con-Ed, she returned to NYU to earn a master’s degree in Organizational Development. Cardillo holds an NYU master’s degree in Human Resources Management, and Cheng’s time at Tandon involved being a general-engineering teaching assistant, helping run the annual InnoVention competition, and picking up a prize from the Department of Finance and Risk Engineering for her academic achievement and outstanding leadership skills when she graduated in 2017.
Just because they’ve been in your shoes, however, doesn’t mean they’ll take it too easy on you. “When you’re just starting out to look for your first internship or job, the interview process can feel really uncomfortable,” Cardillo explains. “So, in a sense, when you come in for help preparing for an interview, our job is to make you uncomfortable — to ask the hard questions an interviewer might ask so that you’re ready with good answers.”
Even the simplest questions can catch an applicant off-guard, and Loriot and her team make sure to cover those as well. “I had a computer-engineering student preparing to interview at one of the companies that delivers meal kits to your door,” she recalls. “It hadn’t occurred to him that an interviewer would ask if he had ever tried one of the kits. Of course, that was one of the questions that was asked almost immediately, and because we had gone over it, he was prepared to explain that he had a school meal plan but that he had looked closely at their website and was familiar with their computer architecture and the user experience.”
A host of services
That type of close, one-on-one counseling is a large part of what Tandon’s Career Services team does — they conducted more than 1,600 sessions last year alone — but it is, in reality, only one part. “We’re here to help however we can, and maybe that involves prepping for an interview or giving you networking tips,” Cardillo says, “but it also means organizing bootcamps so that applicants are ready for the coding or technical tests that companies often give. It means mounting several career fairs during the year.”
Those fairs, a hallmark of Career Services at Tandon, have been taking place virtually during the pandemic and are sometimes organized by major or industry — as well as for individual employers who have multiple positions to fill. Their effectiveness is easy to quantify: in a survey of 2020 graduates, 79% had found employment at such companies as Microsoft, Northrup Grumman, and Bank of America; 20% were headed to graduate school, and 1% were launching entrepreneurial ventures.
Job searching during a pandemic
Even in the age of COVID-19, almost 3,500 students attended the Fall 2020 event, where they met with the school’s more than 750 employer partners looking specifically for the skills and talents that Tandon students are known for. Loriot explains that while the pandemic has posed great challenges for both companies and applicants, there is a silver lining if you look for it. “People are hungry for connection, so networking can be easier,” she explains. “I’ve also noticed that work itself is transforming. Empathy and compassion are on the rise, since everyone has had the experience of meeting their co-workers’ children and pets via Zoom. In general, employers are learning they need to be flexible, and employees are discovering that adaptability is key.”
Starting on day 1
The team cautions that it doesn’t pay to wait until your final months at Tandon to visit them. Last year they inaugurated a series of summer “career academies,” aimed at giving incoming undergraduate and graduate students an idea of the services available to them and an overall look at the employment landscape.
“We realize that first-year students will need time and space to make the transition and will want to focus on getting comfortable academically and socially,” Cheng says. “Still, we ask them to log into TandonConnect, our online portal, and fill out their profile so that when they do want to use our services, they’re ready. Certainly, by junior year, undergraduates should be exploring their career or grad-school options and focusing on finding a great internship if they haven’t done that already. It’s important to remember though, it’s alright if you’re not sure of your goals or don’t know exactly where you’re headed. We can help you explore those things.”
Helping hands and willing ears
The search for a job or internship can seem like an arduous task — particularly when you consider that last year alone there were well over 1,000 job posting on TandonConnect to comb through — but everyone on the Career Services team considers themselves a partner in the process. (Their phone records prove that; they each set themselves a goal of speaking to 17 to 22 students every day, to check in and discuss any issues of concern.)
“I give John [Cardillo] a great deal of credit for helping me stay on track,” computer science major Naman Chimnani says. “It can be easy to feel discouraged, but then I check in with him and he reminds me we’re in this together. I’ve tried to convey that same sense of support to my friends, as well, because that has been very important to me.”
The need for that type of support doesn’t end once a student has secured a job or internship. Adriana Pink, a chemical and biomolecular engineering major, began her search in August 2020 and within months was in the enviable position of having three offers to choose from: General Motors, Verisk Analytics, and IBM. “I was worried about how to determine which would be best for me and how to go about turning down the others in a way that wouldn’t burn any bridges,” she recalls. “I was also uncertain about how to discuss salary and negotiate the best situation for myself. Career Services was an enormous help in those respects.”
Pink ultimately chose IBM and thinks anyone using Tandon’s Career Services has the potential to attract multiple offers, as she did. “You wouldn’t join a fabulous gym with the most highly qualified trainers and then exercise by yourself in your basement,” she says. “We attend a great school that happens to have great career resources, so it would be foolish not to take advantage of that.”
A look at two jobseekers
Naman Chimnani, Computer Science, 2021 (left) and Adriana Pink, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2021 (right)
Did you make any mistakes as you embarked on the process?
Naman: I was too focused on particular roles in the beginning. I targeted too narrow a selection of jobs. I should have set my sights on a broader range and gone to those interviews so that I could get in extra practice. As Tandon students, we have very solid technical skills, but I, for one, needed as much help as I could get on the soft skills, and going on more interviews would have been useful.
Adriana: I encountered several mistakes as I embarked on my venture. Initially, I had not taken a holistic approach. My co-op experience at Walt Disney Imagineering last spring opened my mind and motivated me to deep dive into my career path thus realizing the vast array of options to pursue as a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineer.
Our potential career paths are endless! Now I envisioned things on a broader scope not limiting or boxing myself to a specific area. For instance, earlier I thought I wanted to enter the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry because of my limited exposure, but thanks to the invaluable experience at my internship and more networking along the way I am more confident. I have gained knowledge from lessons learned which allowed me to expand my horizons and see things in a wider scope. I loved the experience because it really changed my thinking about my career path and eventually led me to pursue a tech career.
What is one of the most useful things you’ve learned while searching?
Naman: You can’t be shy. I network every chance I get. You might look at someone younger than you and think they’d never be able to do anything to help you, but who knows? That teaching assistant may have a parent working at a company you’re interested in or someone you meet in passing might have a good lead for you—you just don’t know until you make contact.
Adriana: Where your elevator pitch and interview answers are concerned, you can’t practice too much; keep practicing!
What is one piece of job-search advice you’d give anyone?
Naman: If you get knocked down, get right back up. If one company rejects you, apply to five others!
Adriana: Network, network, network. My engagement in an organization such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) chapter strengthened my capabilities and created opportunities to gain mentorship from leaders and alumni. I was part of the leadership team of SHPE, and I highly recommend getting engaged and involved with similar professional organizations that interest you.
I have been very lucky throughout my career to have great mentors, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without their patience, motivation, and support. Everyone has something to gain from mentoring, and investing in yourself will be rewarding.