Recent Grads Prove the Power of a Polytechnic Education

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the job market for fresh college graduates is improving, with slightly more than half (52.9%) of respondents surveyed finding full-time jobs within six months of earning their bachelor’s degrees.

That’s good news for students from across the country, but the situation is even better for the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Class of 2014. More than 87% of its members had found full-time work within that time frame—with a whopping 41% receiving firm offers of employment even before walking the stage at the Barclay Center to get their diplomas. And if finding even one job seems lucky in an economy that is only slowly recovering, consider that 46% of the School of Engineering’s 2014 grads were courted by two or more companies.

If anyone is tempted to discount those figures, assuming that the jobs in question represent poorly paying, low-level  work, they’ll have to think again: mean salary for our newest alumni was $60,7601, and those who received signing bonuses—a relative rarity for straight-out-of-school hires—were awarded upwards of $5,000 each.

Few graduates would claim to have found such success of their own. For one thing, as the time to don cap and gown approached, many made use of the university’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, attending employment fairs and other Wasserman Center events and seeking advice on networking and interviewing. But the path to career success started for most the day they first decided to apply to the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. Here are just a few of their stories.

Hannah Catbagan: Poly to Port Authority

Q: How did you decide upon the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering?
A: It was 2010, in the days before the formal merger, and I applied to NYU, not realizing that there had been no engineering program there for four decades, since the Heights campus closed. An admission counselor explained that NYU was, however, affiliated with the Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn and that they would be sending my application there. As soon as I toured Poly, I knew it was the right place for me. I loved everything about it and about Brooklyn.

Q: Which classes and extracurricular activities did you find most gratifying and/or useful as you prepared for your career?
A: Although I started out as a civil engineering major, I later switched to construction management because that was a better fit for me. My roommate switched at the same time, and Professor Lawrence Chiarelli, the director of the construction management program, was enormously supportive as we made the transition. All of my classes were very hands-on and practical, including Construction Scheduling and Construction Materials and Methods.

I had the opportunity to participate each year in the Associated Schools of Construction Competition, which involved taking a real-world construction project and creating a complete bid proposal for it. That was a wonderful learning experience. Another very gratifying thing I took part in was serving as an admissions ambassador, answering questions from prospective students and giving tours. The best part was seeing some of the students I had interacted with once they enrolled and knowing I had helped them make the wise choice to come here.

Q: Tell us a little about the process of finding your current job and what that job entails.
A: In 2013, during my junior year, I got an internship at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the region’s airports, bus terminals, marine terminals, bridges, and tunnels. I did project management on the Bayonne Bridge, and then, two months before graduation, I was offered a spot in the Engineering & Architecture Associates Program, which is meant to give new hires a chance to see the ‘big picture’ of transportation infrastructure by rotating us through a variety of departments. I would encourage anyone graduating from the School of Engineering to apply, because the Port Authority is a terrific place, and working here has been such a great experience thus far. I learned so much during my internship, and now, as part of the Engineering & Architecture Associates Program, I’m continuing to learn and grow. I’ve already completed a three-month rotation at the Bus Terminal in Times Square and a one-month assignment in traffic design. Wherever I rotate next and wherever I’m ultimately assigned to work full-time when the year is up, I know that my NYU School of Engineering degree has prepared me.

Redwan Hussain: An Illuminating Education and Electrifying Career

Q: How did you decide upon the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering?
A: I’m a native New Yorker and attended Aviation High School in Long Island City, so I had been aware of the School of Engineering for a long time. As soon as I took a tour, I realized that there was so much there of interest to me and so many activities I could immerse myself in. I was really attracted to the wide variety of project-based, hands-on courses, and I liked that the program was so obviously rigorous and challenging.

Q: Which classes and extracurricular activities did you find most gratifying and/or useful as you prepared for your career?
A: Classes taught by Mike Knox and Matthew Campisi had the most impact in preparing me for my career.  They were wonderful teachers and mentors, and I never felt we were in class simply to learn formulas. In fact, all of my professors were focused on providing real-life perspective and as much hands-on experience as possible.

Being here as the merger between Poly and NYU was completed provided a lot of leadership opportunities and interesting chances to get involved in student life. I served as the VP of Academic Success on the Student Council, helped develop a peer mentoring program, and represented the School of Engineering at NYU events, to name just a few. It was very gratifying in 2012 to be officially named one of the most influential students at NYU—I was the first Poly student to win that designation. Then, the following year, I won the NYU President’s Service Award, which was a tremendous honor.

Q: Tell us a little about the process of finding your current job and what that job entails.
A: During my time at Poly I had a wonderful internship at Mana Health, an incubator company founded by alum Christopher Bradley. That gave me a firsthand look at how to develop a product and run a start-up, so it was an invaluable experience. And when I attended School of Engineering board meetings as a member of the Student Council, I met people from large, established companies like Con-Ed, so that gave me an invaluable glimpse into possibilities of another type.

Immediately after graduation the opportunity presented itself to join Con-Ed’s Growth Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) program, which is aimed at giving new hires the chance to take on a rotating series of supervisory and project-based jobs. It’s challenging and rigorous--just like studying at the School of Engineering—so I feel ready. I’ve done an engineering rotation and a stint as a supervisor at a substation so far. And I’ve already met fellow alumni working here, so I’ve got a very strong network and a web of support.

Dina Own: A WISE Woman

Q: How did you decide upon the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering?
A: I was looking for a way to combine my love of art with my interest in technology, and when an uncle who happened to be a computer scientist suggested I try my hand at web design, I loved it. Working with him one summer, I found that I really enjoyed programming and development, and when he insisted that I apply to the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering after high school, because he felt strongly that this was the right place for me, I totally agreed.

Q: Which classes and extracurricular activities did you find most gratifying and/or useful as you prepared for your career?
A: I took terrific courses with Haldun Hadimioglu in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Matthew Campisi in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and they inspired me deeply with their dedication to their respective fields. Fred Straus was another fantastic professor, and he really gave me the foundation and building blocks for my current career. His course in software engineering is the one I think about and use every single day at work.

As far as extracurricular activities, I’m very happy to have been involved in founding the student organization Women in Search of Excellence (WISE), which turned into a vibrant network of aspiring female engineers who give each other advice and provide support and friendship. Before graduating, I helped train other student leaders, so the group is still an active and important part of life at Poly for a new generation of members.

As a student I also completed an internship at DIRECTTV, where I developed a web tool called Custom UI Builder that allowed users to create rapid prototypes of various user interface screens instantaneously. It’s a fabulous company, but it’s out in California. I’m a New Yorker, so I hoped to find a job after graduation right here on the East Coast.

Q: Tell us a little about the process of finding your current job and what that job entails.
A: In addition to WISE, I was active in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a large national organization. In the months before I graduated, I attended a SWE conference devoted to professional development and growth, and I met a recruiter from Verizon. She asked to see my resume, so I was very happy I had known to bring it along. The very next day I was invited to interview with a hiring manager, and within two weeks I had been offered a job as a software engineer. As soon as I graduated I started work developing Mobile & Desktop applications for Verizon Wireless. Verizon is a challenging and fast-paced place—just like Poly—so I really owe a debt of gratitude to everyone there for preparing me.