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Finding and hiring new employees used to be called recruiting. Now it is called talent acquisition, a new name that signals a change of philosophy by large corporations. Talent acquisition reflects the recognition that hiring is a cost, susceptible like other costs to analysis to determine how to maximize return on investment. In the past, companies cast their nets widely, but today many find it more costeffective to concentrate on a limited number of universities. They offer internships only to their students, send recruiters only to their job fairs and hire only their graduates.

This approach puts departments like U.Va.’s Department of Chemical Engineering at a disadvantage. Corporations question the wisdom of devoting time and resources to visit a school with 40 chemical engineering majors when they could visit a school with 400.

Fortunately, we have a persuasive answer: the exceptional quality of Engineering School students. When corporate recruiters meet them, they find their combination of technical and leadership skills irresistible. The challenge has been to get them in front of recruiters — and in this regard the School's students, assisted by alumni and faculty, often play a decisive role.

Take the case of Halle Yungmeyer (ChE ’16). Yungmeyer grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee, the home of Eastman Chemical. A transfer student from the College of Arts & Sciences, Yungmeyer thought that a summer internship at Eastman Chemical after her first year would be the ideal way to confirm her decision to become a chemical engineering major. She enlisted Professor Roseanne Ford’s help, who contacted recruiters at Eastman Chemical. The response Ford received was discouraging. Yungmeyer could submit her resume, but because U.Va. was not a target school, her chances of being awarded an internship were slim. The department submitted two resumes the following year, but with similar results.

Coincidentally, the University was pursuing closer ties with Eastman Chemical through its Strategic Corporate Partners program. Pace Lochte, the University’s assistant vice president for strategic initiatives, learned of Yungmeyer’s background and made a point of enlisting Yungmeyer, a University Guide, to give tours for Eastman senior executives. “They were impressed by how articulate she was, especially in explaining why she enjoyed being an Engineering student at U.Va.,” Lochte says. “She was one of the reasons why Eastman added us to its list of target schools.”

This year, Eastman Chemical attended the Engineering School’s career fair, and Yungmeyer was the first student offered an internship. “It will be great working for a company that played such an important role in my daily life growing up,” she says.