University-Industry Engagement Week

CUNY looks to improve on industry engagement to place more students in tech jobs

By David Schwartz
Published: November 15th, 2022

Students at the City University of New York are increasingly graduating with degrees in technology, but a new study suggests they are struggling to land jobs after graduation, and a push for more effective industry engagement is in the offing to promote tech grads to employers. 

The new study from the Center for an Urban Future details the challenges that students have faced at CUNY, the nation’s largest urban university with a long history as a vehicle for opportunity its students, who are predominantly Black and Hispanic.

CUNY has the potential to be “the city’s largest and most equitable springboard into technology careers,” the report said, but that potential is largely untapped. Hampered by budget constraints, CUNY has traditionally invested little in career development, and its successful but small programs connecting students to internships, apprenticeships and hiring opportunities need to be sharply expanded, the report said. In addition, the study recommends that courses be reshaped to teach the skills and use the technical tools in demand in today’s digital businesses.

Half of CUNY computer science graduates do not have a job in their field a year after graduation, according to the report. Paid internships are also scarce: Just 10% of CUNY students report having one during their college careers.

“Technology is where the good jobs are growing in New York, and too few of them have gone to people of color,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, noting that fewer than 21% percent of the city’s tech workers are Black or Hispanic, even though those two groups comprise 43% percent of its work force.

“New York is uniquely positioned to be not only a leader in tech but also a leader in tech diversity,” said Jason M. Clark, executive director of the non-profit group Tech:NYC. “But we need to develop pipelines to jobs.” And the report identifies the CUNY systems as the biggest pipeline available.

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez agreed, and he acknowledges the need for better student-to-career connections. Since he became Chancellor in 2019, Matos Rodríguez has pushed for greater industry engagement and internship opportunities, and he can point to significant progress.

As part of a program announced last year, Bloomberg, Centerbridge and Goldman Sachs now offer paid internships and career advice in the tech-heavy finance industry to CUNY students.

Mastercard is working with LaGuardia Community College to shape its cybersecurity courses, host apprenticeships, and hire more students full-time. And Google has increased its recruiting efforts at CUNY schools, hiring 30 graduates full-time and taking on 21 CUNY students as paid interns and apprentices in the most recent academic year.

Just last month, Mayor Eric Adams and Matos Rodríguez announced a $16 million public-private partnership, the CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiative, to collaborate with industry and sponsor 2,000 summer internships with companies.

Matos Rodríguez says more industry engagement resources are needed to keep the momentum and cement closer relationships with businesses.

City College President Vincent Boudreau wants to more than double the number of full-time career advisers from five to 12, as well as bring more industry experts, including midcareer professionals in technology, into classrooms across the college. “We’ve got to start building career development and pathways as part of the curriculum,” Boudreau said.

Source: The New York Times

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week