Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 39
to a Master's Degree
By Pam Allen
Elliott Smith '15 attended an on-campus hiring event in his junior year and expected to land a job
interview or two. Instead, Smith landed some sage advice from a recruiter. The recruiter, from Johnson
& Johnson, told the computer science undergraduate that his technical education was impressive, but it
lacked the business components to position him as a competitive candidate. "I was at a loss when they
said they wanted a business background. I knew then that I needed something to set me apart from the
other candidates," Smith says.
During another hiring event, this one in the fall semester of his senior year, Smith approached
Johnson & Johnson recruiters again. This time, he'd enrolled in Rensselaer's co-terminal program and
planned to graduate the following spring with a bachelor's in computer science and a master of business
Rensselaer's co-terminal program allows qualified undergraduates to complete their bachelor's
degrees within eight semesters for most programs, while maintaining their Rensselaer funding for up to
two additional semesters as they pursue a master's degree. The accelerated master's program has grown
every year since its inception in 2008.
Smith's second encounter with Johnson & Johnson recruiters yielded an interview the following day.
"I told them what happened during the first interview, and that I was currently working toward my
MBA. I explained that it was my vision to navigate the spectrum of both the business and tech worlds,"
Smith says. He was invited to a second interview two weeks later. More than 140 candidates were vying
for 30 positions.
When Johnson & Johnson offered him a job, Smith was in the driver's seat. With another job offer
from General Electric to consider, he planned to research each company thoroughly before making
a decision. Each company offered two-year rotational training programs, meaning that Smith could
choose his final placement after completing the rotation. Smith, however, wanted to learn more about
their company cultures and the career potentials tied to each position. Accessing the Lally School of
Management's extensive alumni network, he spoke with several alumni to get a sense of which
program offered the most diverse experiences and opportunities for advancement.
A month later, Smith accepted the position with Johnson & Johnson.
"I would not have gotten the job without the co-term program," says Smith, who now works in IT
management as an analyst with Johnson & Johnson's Enterprise Architecture Group at the company's
IT headquarters in Raritan, New Jersey. His job requires finding solutions for bringing data from all of
Johnson & Johnson's approximately 250 companies into a single location.
THE CO-TERMINAL ADVANTAGE
Rensselaer's co-terminal program may eliminate a year or more from the traditional path to a master's
degree, thus reducing tuition costs. Undergrads with accelerated schedules can complete their master's
in as little as nine semesters.
Like most co-term students, Smith began his master's coursework in his senior year. With the
average master's degree requiring up to two years of full-time study, the accelerated program allowed
RensselaeR/ Fall 2017 39