UT grads will get matched with employers with new initiative

Domino Weir, a computer engineering student at UT Austin talks about her employment goals after graduation. KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas is hoping a new talent matching program changes the way companies connect with graduates seeking jobs.

Digerati, Inc., a Detroit based technology company, has partnered with UT to bring their WorkFountain platform to Texas, connecting supply and demand between employers and applicants in different industries.

University leaders believe the program will help match graduates at all 14 of their institutions with better opportunities. The partnership is free for UT students and designed to reduce candidate and recruiting bias.

“We help make innovation real,” Julie Goonewardene, UT’s associate vice chancellor of Innovation and Strategic Investment said in release. “We invest in those groundbreaking ideas that have the potential to change lives, and we connect those on the frontline of discovery with industry leaders that can help them scale their discovery for true impact.”

On this platform, students log in, identify their major, skills, and area of interest, and are immediately paired with opportunities looking for candidates like them.

The pilot of this initiative was rolled out in March starting at some of the system’s smaller campuses including UT Rio Grande Valley and  UT El Paso. Carlos Kemeny, assistant director for the UT System Office of Innovation and Strategic Investment, said the system is aiming to have the initiative rolled out at all UT campuses in the coming months. He said the program has already been successful; students from 77 majors are already using the platform.

While the UT System is paying for the implementation of the program at their campuses, this agreement is largely a trade deal allowing Digerati to tap into UT’s talent pool and UT students to take advantage of business connections, Kemeny said. He added that the entire university system has a large talent pool, but students don’t always know where to find the types of jobs they’re prepared for.

“We’re using the information through these surveys to be able to match them instantaneously to employers across the market to have offerings that align with their interests and their abilities,” explained Brian Balasia, CEO and Co-Founder of Digerati.

Digerati offers opportunities from employers across the nation on their platform, but for the UT initiative, Digerati has been focused on connecting with Texas employers.

Balasia added that their algorithm also cuts through some of the biases that might typically occur in the application process.

“There has historically been a slant toward Anglo-Saxon male names, and we want to reduce that and focus on what somebody knows rather than who they know, leveling the playing field for all of our candidates,” he explained.

He added that this initiative also helps people consider opportunities and candidates they might otherwise be unfamiliar with.

“Maybe [employers] have a relationship with UT Austin but they’ve never been to UT San Antonio and they’re looking for cyber security experts,” he said. “UT San Antonio is one of the top schools in the country for cyber security experts but they’re not familiar with the talent coming out of that system”

As a junior, Electrical and Computer Engineering major Domino Weir has already begun applying for internships and looking into job opportunities. She described the job application process as “super competitive” and believes she will use the Work Fountain platform.

“There are just so many qualified candidates out there,” Weir said. “Every single interview I’ve done has felt like a shot in the dark, every single job I’ve applied to I have no idea whether I had a shot at getting it.”

Claire Murray, a junior Chemical Engineering major, said that while she feels prepared to put her degree to use, the prospect of joining the workforce is, “a little scary to be honest.”

She thinks Work Fountain might be helpful because it’ll allow her to consider opportunities that fall outside of her engineering degree. She is considering medical school and possibly a Ph.D. program.

“Most of our days are spent on the engineering quarters, so I think that would be helpful to have a program that says, if you’re interested in startups if, you’re interested in business, we can set you up with that,” she said.

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