Over the past year and half, Fawzi Ben Messaoud, Ph.D., informatics faculty member at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, has led a group of his students in developing a web-based career matching tool, the Learning Path and Career eXchange Application.
Ben Messaoud saw a need for an improved way for college students, alumni, and potential employers to easily exchange information before, during, and after meeting, and facilitate their time in face-to face-interactions. According to Ben Messaoud, “This application will allow students to build, manage, and present their personal brand to potential employers thus maximizing their chances of exposure, opportunities, and use of time to search and select jobs and internship opportunities.” He said the application is also open to employers who can use it to publish a company overview, testimonials from previous hires, job and internship opportunities; easily search and select talents; and view, save, and communicate with matched talents.
Human-Computer Interaction graduate student Niranjan Kshirisagar is the UX designer on the project, assisting Ben Messaoud with the development of the various features of the app, such as student profile sharing and interaction with employer information. “Before this application we used to get printouts about employers and their details…now we get all the information on the application itself,” he said.
Recently, School of Informatics and Computing students beta-tested the app at the school’s Spring Career Fair. The app assisted students in interacting with potential employers and vice-versa—through an interface that allowed them to promote their personal brand by posting background information from their so-called Digital Passport within Career eXchange. For example, students were able to share an introductory video, resume, and cover letter that employers could access. They also logged their visits with each employer and rated the experience for follow up. This opened channels for future communication between the two.
Career Services advisor Pat Rhodes has been working closely with Ben Messaoud to make sure the tool is useful to both the students she advises and the employers she invites to the fair. “I love that this app allows employers to connect with top talent before, during and after the career fair. Students, regardless if they attend the fair or not, are able to upload their resumes and portfolios, which employers can match to opportunities within their organizations,” Rhodes said.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Three of the students who used the app at the spring career fair shared their experiences before, during, and after the beta test. Holly Handlon, Taryn Husted, and Dwight Hall came prepared to talk to employers they had already identified as interested in their skill set as a result of using the app.
Handlon, a junior studying informatics, learned about the app through a project management class taught by Ben Messaoud. She is now part of a team helping to prepare an academic paper about the app, which they will present at the International 2019 Educational Media conference in Amsterdam. “What makes this application unique is that it is directly connected to the IUPUI School of Informatics and Computing, so it gives students the opportunity to save their Capstone project, request transcripts, and connect with employers that are featured at our career fairs. All of this makes it easier for students to connect with potential employers on a platform where the employer can see what the student has accomplished thus far,” Handlon said. She spoke with Datum Solutions, Franciscan Alliance, and Harmony Healthcare, among others at the fair.
“The best part of the app for me was being able to see which employees would be at the fair and what they were looking for. This helped me plan out exactly who I wanted to talk with and what I would say to them.”
Hall, a senior informatics major who is also working on the publication team, explained what he sees as the strength of the career app, “Students can view which employers have saved them as potential candidates, and employers can see the students who have saved their company to the student’s favorites. The application acts as a matching website that matches students to employers. Truly, the most unique aspect of the application is that it gives IUPUI students the ability to manage their own personal brand and digital footprint in order to present themselves as the best candidate for potential employers.” He says that he was able to speak with seven companies with the help of the app. “The most helpful function of the application is that I was able to see which companies were hiring full-time, part-time, and internships. The application also provides the company website so I was able to do research on the companies before I spoke with them at the career fair,” Hall said.
Husted is also a junior in informatics and in the project management class as well. She will be helping to refine the app over the next several months. “Having this app will help students and alumni be able to connect more with employers as well as have a place where they can store their professional documents. Likewise, I believe that this app will be beneficial due to the fact that students, once the app has become fully functional, will be able to have a detailed transcript of what they learned and how it is applicable to their skillset, as well as let employers see exactly what students have learned throughout their college career,” she said. “I talked to four companies at the career fair about different internship positions such as ones in cybersecurity or systems analysis. The app helped me to be able to single out the employers that would be the best fit for me with my skills and experience,” she added.
Plans are in the works to expand the tool to mobile phones and for other applications within the School of Informatics and Computing, and to make it available to other IU schools, eventually launching it outside the university. For further information, please contact Fawzi Ben Messaoud.