: Get Creative"> The fact that theyre now competing with IT professionals who have vastly more experience makes it imperative that students get creative about gaining experienceif not through an internship, then through other means, such as volunteering on technology projects at nonprofits, signing up to assist with faculty research projects, or scoring a job with a universitys help desk or computer lab (see chart,
"Alternatives to internships").
One thing thats appealing about university or college technical positions is that they set the bar low when it comes to the technical skills students are expected to have. Kevin Baradet, network systems director at Cornell Universitys S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management and an eWeek Corporate Partner, said he doesnt even look at the skills of the students he hires to configure laptops, work as consultants in the computer lab or do development work on the schools systems.
"In my lab, I have funded projects where masters and Ph.D. students are working, and we recruit undergrads to work side by side with them," Khosla said. "They even get a paper [published] before they graduate." Finally, hiring managers are deeply impressed with the initiative shown by students who volunteer their time to aid nonprofit groups. Microsoft Corp. Senior Technical Recruiter Colleen McCreary said one of the few students to get a coveted Microsoft internshipthe company typically receives more than 100,000 résumés a year; in fiscal year 2002, 6,100 of those people were hireddid so in no small part because he decided to help Habitat for Humanity set up a membership database. "We love to see people whove gone above and beyond whats expected of them," said McCreary, in Charlotte, N.C. Related stories: Lining Up for Jobs
For This Student, Persistence Pays Off
Enrollments Fall With the Times
At Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, students have ample opportunity to work on research projects before they graduate. Pradeep Khosla, a professor and head of the schools Electrical and Computer Engineering and Information Networking Institute, said employers covet Carnegie Mellon graduates because of the design experience they glean from both course work and research project work.