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TIPP Off: ETIC Students Impress Employers with Technology Expertise

December 6, 2018

On October 5, seven NYIT students stood in front of representatives from Northwell Health to propose solutions to the company’s cybersecurity and IT challenges. At the end of the day, two students, including computer science major Constanza Cabrera, walked away with internship offers.

The day was the first of many planned through the Technology Internship Prep Program (TIPP), an initiative recently launched by NYIT’s Entrepreneurship & Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) to nurture inventive new companies and a 21st-century workforce to staff them.

The program introduces qualified students to potential employers through methods that go beyond the mundane job interview. According to Michael Nizich, Ph.D., director of the ETIC, which is housed in NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, today’s technology companies need more than a résumé—they want a tangible track record of successful innovation and to be able to put a face with a name. TIPP, Nizich explains, fills that need by first challenging students to present a proven technology-creation portfolio, and then hosting showcases where employers can experience the creations and meet the creators.

“We all had the same challenges and wound up having the same issues finding people,” says Nizich, a veteran IT professional with a quarter-century career spanning aviation, law enforcement, and other key industries. “These companies really wanted to interact with the students and know what they were getting. They were looking, possibly, at their next full-time employee.”

“The TIPP program is an indispensable asset available to our students to prepare and train them for internship positions. TIPP provides them with a highly specialized and customized training program,” adds Babak D. Beheshti, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences. “It is yet another indicator of NYIT’s commitment to make its maker, innovator, and inventor student body job-ready.”

Nearly a year ago, Nizich and his team started putting together TIPP to help fulfill the ETIC’s commitment to creating jobs. After months of networking and scheduling, the program was formalized over the summer and made a modest announcement to students about a soft launch.

The response has been impressive: more than 100 students have already signed up and the internship offers keep coming. “Since the day with Northwell Health, the TIPP program has prepared and placed students at Long Island Technology Group in Farmingdale (N.Y.) and at Juniper Networks, and continues to provide the Northwell TIPP graduates for interviews when opportunities arise,” says Nizich.

Not only is the unusual method of presenting potential interns to companies resonating with participants, but program organizers are, according to Nizich, “discovering a lot about the companies” in the TIPP pipeline. “When you add another résumé to a pile for the same position, the company loses out on the student’s real talents,” Nizich notes, adding that when inexperienced students are shoehorned into unfamiliar job-interview settings, nobody wins.

Through TIPP, companies spend time with potential interns/prospective employees, who present their work and answer questions “on a deeper level” about their creations and ambitions.

Among the director’s fresh formulas is a strategy noting how much some employers spend to snag just one full-time employee. (The cost can be as much as $30,000, which includes search and onboarding expenses, managers’ time and other factors.)

“We explain that we’re presenting all the talent in one place, in person, and demonstrating portfolios that can solve actual industry problems,” Nizich notes. “Companies are starting to understand this, and it’s going really well so far.”

With automated student sign-up already in place, the program will soon offer companies a point-and-click email system that registers them in TIPP’s database and matches them with appropriate students.

According to Nizich, there’s already a “good solid list” of regional tech firms populating the corporate database, but he plans to do more outreach. “Our focus is going to be on making sure the HR people have a clear understanding that the TIPP program exists so that when they have a specific need, they can reach out to us and say, ‘Hey, we’re looking for this, can we stop by and see what you have?’”

Matching top student innovators and companies with specific innovation needs is a big advantage for the ETIC and strengthens its overall business-incubation and workforce-development missions.  

“When a startup company comes to NYIT through the incubator system and starts working with students who’ve participated in TIPP and our hackathons, they see an extra level of effort and production,” Nizich says. “And once students see the success spreading and hear their classmates say, ‘yeah, I went through TIPP and I got a great job,” there will be a lot of buzz. It’s going to take off.”

Learn more about how companies can work with ETIC.

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