Meeting Our Recruiters? Learn How to Stand Out.

Pratt & Whitney’s Talent Acquisition team is headed back to school this fall, in search of the next class of interns and co-ops to join the company. Our recruiters will visit college campuses across the U.S. in search of people who have the skills of the future.

Chela Gage, global director, Talent Acquisition, explains what sets a successful candidate apart during the recruitment process. Listen to this episode of Pratt Chat, and find out how to stand out in your interview.


Rob McGuinness: Let’s talk talent.

Rob McGuinness: Pratt & Whitney’s Talent Acquisition team plays a critical role in attracting the people and skills that our company needs for the future. They define the candidate experience for applicants around the world, recruit interns, co-ops and early and mid-career professionals, and build a pipeline of people who want to move the world forward with their work.

Rob McGuinness: Today, we’ll catch up with Chela Gage, who leads our talent team, and find out what sets a successful candidate apart during the recruitment process. I’m Rob McGuinness, and you’re listening to Pratt Chat.


Rob McGuinness: Chela Gage is the global director of Talent Acquisition. She sets our recruiting strategies for the U.S., Canada, Poland and Singapore.

Rob McGuinness: The fall semester is underway, Chela, and part of your team is headed back to school, trying to find the next class of interns and co-ops who will join us here at Pratt & Whitney.

Rob McGuinness: I want to hear more about this team that is out on campus. I know it’s a busy time. When is it never a busy time? But it’s an especially busy time of year for them. This is peak season.

Chela Gage: From May to the end of August, we have our interns here. We’re hosting interns. And so, I can barely find my team. But from September to the end of November, it’s kind of like, [sings] where in the world is Talent Acquisition?

Chela Gage: That’s a “Carmen Sandiego” reference, for those who didn’t know.

Rob McGuinness: Yes!

Chela Gage: They’re everywhere. Within the U.S., they’re at North Carolina A&T, MIT, Georgia Tech, WPI, RPI. They’re at all of our events.

Chela Gage: They bring with them hiring managers who are passionate about bringing in their next talent. The talent of the future. The talent that will have the skills of the future. They bring with them hiring managers who are ready to make offers before we leave the event.

Rob McGuinness: What kinds of candidates are you looking for in some of these campus visits? Engineers, I’m sure. But are opportunities in other areas, too?

Chela Gage: You always think the base of the company is engineering, right? So, we are. We can’t forget that. But we have so many other roles.

Chela Gage: One of the great things about Pratt is that you can walk into this campus and have four different, five different careers. So, yes. Engineering. We’re at every engineering school. I wouldn’t say MIT if we weren’t.

Chela Gage: But, IT. Supply chain. Operations. Management. Finance. There are people who say, I have a CPA. We’ve got you at Pratt. We’ve got many opportunities.

Chela Gage: And so, our team is looking for a range of candidates. We have rotational programs that are surrounding that. We have one in Supply Chain. We have one in Quality. Operations. HR. We’re looking for every type of candidate.

Chela Gage: Now, do we have more roles open in some of our facets than others? Yes.

Chela Gage: And also, the GPA? Yes. That’s necessary. But we’re also looking for people who have shown exemplary teamwork. We’re looking for those who have taken some of their groups or some of their sororities or fraternities and taken a leadership capacity. Let us see that. Because we can nurture that. We can grow that and we can turn that into a role at Pratt.

Chela Gage: It’s not only what’s on the résumé, but what’s in the whole person. People ask me this all the time. What do I say? What do I do? Sometimes I lock up when I see one of the recruiters at the booth. It’s really, have a conversation with a friend.

Chela Gage: And tell them about all of the great things that you just did, and let that be at ease. Because if you’re at that career event, you’ve taken the biggest step. You’ve gone out the door and you’ve made it to the event. Now, just have the conversation.

Rob McGuinness: The sense that I get from talking to you now is that students who are meeting us at the fairs are not necessarily meeting us for the first time. This is the second or third contact.

Chela Gage: Very true.

Rob McGuinness: They’ve been somewhere in the process already. But I am sure there are those who come across us for the first time, or maybe don’t know us as well. What are some of the things that would make any of these applicants want to join us here?

Chela Gage: First, there is the Pratt blood. We are Pratt strong. And our employee benefits are fantastic. One of the great things about Pratt is our Employee Scholar Program. We’ve had different changes this past year, but one of the great things about the program is it’s not a reimbursement.

Chela Gage: Pratt understands that there are people who want to continue their education, but be it time or be it finances, they may not have the opportunity to do that. Pratt says, let me do that for you. Let me take away that obstacle. We will pay the school directly. And there are certain schools that we partner with. We will provide for your books. So that thought is now no longer in your brain. You don’t have to think that through.

Chela Gage: We also give you time to study. And I have a lot of people on my team who are doing this. What I love about that, about knowing that Pratt is helping my team get to their next step. I’m always thinking when this person finishes their degree, they’re going to know so much information. Or I talk to them about what are you learning, and how can that help us? So, our Employee Scholar Program is one.

Chela Gage: Another is our Employee Resource Groups. There’s families within the family at Pratt. We have our Empower Ability group, which is mainly for those of us who have disabilities or live with families who have disabilities. We also have our Hispanic leaders, we have our new generation leaders, we have our African American groups. We have our women’s leaders.

Chela Gage: We have a jazz band! I was leaving one day – at was six o’clock – and I love band, I play six instruments myself. So I hear this band going. And I was like, what is that? And someone said that was the jazz band.

Chela Gage: And I was thinking, oh man, how fantastic is it that you come to work with your suitcase, your briefcase, your heels, your tie, and your instrument! How fantastic is that?

Rob McGuinness: It’s great. It illustrates that there is so much more than just the nine-to-five.

Chela Gage: And then, come on. We make engines!

Rob McGuinness: Right! As if that wasn’t enough.

Chela Gage: Just look up!

Rob McGuinness: Exactly. Just look up.

Rob McGuinness: Let’s talk about how to prepare for a successful visit with one of our recruiters at one of these events. If I’m a candidate, and I’ve got that meeting scheduled, what should I keep in mind as I get ready?

Chela Gage: So, when you are coming to meet the University Relations team at a career event that you’re probably heading to right now, think through, what have I learned in class and how can I put that in a day-to-day.

Chela Gage: You want to ask the team, what type of projects will I get into? Understand that you, as the candidate, are interviewing Pratt, as much as we are interviewing you. Talk through, we’ve all heard the “fail fast” or “fail forward,” right?

Rob McGuinness: I’ve heard that one, too.

Chela Gage: Failures are so important because it tells us what you’ve tried, what risks you have taken. Because innovation is nothing if there are not risks. Everyone has to take a step.

Chela Gage: Talk to us about those failures and tell us what you’ve learned. Like I mentioned before, just have the conversation.

Chela Gage: Be open on different roles, too. So, every career counselor at the colleges, and I smile, thinking about the few that I’ve had, they tell you, look at this company for this job.

Chela Gage: Ask the recruiters, what other jobs? Tell them I am successful in A, B, C, D. Where do you see me fitting in at Pratt? We’ll tell you. We will so happily invest in helping you get there.

Rob McGuinness: That’s an important point. You don’t necessarily have to know what your path looks like. If you can tell us about your interests and passions and what you’ve done well, and what you’ve been successful at, we might be able to guide you toward the right fit.

Chela Gage: 100 percent.

Rob McGuinness: Are there any questions a candidate should bring with them? You mentioned that it’s not just Pratt interviewing you. You’re interviewing Pratt. What are some of the questions that a successful candidate might ask?

Chela Gage: I mentioned before how our University Relations team, they show up with hiring managers and I’ve learned throughout my career, the person that you report to helps make you successful.

Chela Gage: When you’re speaking to that manager, you want to find out what makes them tick. Ask them how have they helped others in their career grow. Ask them about their own educational experience and find out if their education helped lead them to the role that they’re in now, and what that path was like.

Chela Gage: I mentioned before that you can have many different careers at Pratt, so what is going on outside of that manager? We are looking for people who have that big picture in mind. When we hire someone on, I am of the mentality that you recruit once and hire twice. Why take all of that recruiting effort and just use it one time?

Rob McGuinness: Right!

Chela Gage: And, also, ask about what you’re passionate in. If you’re interested in environment and green, ask the manager how his team, or what work Pratt is doing to help in that. You mentioned yourself, passion and purpose. Try and figure out what is most important to you, and ask that question.

Chela Gage: There are some people who meet us at our conferences that are outside of university relations, some of our diversity recruiting conferences. Those people have anywhere from seven to 12 to 15 years of experience. We’re no longer talking about your education. We’re talking about what you have accomplished.

Chela Gage: there is another opportunity to make an impact. And that’s after the interview. Thank you notes are so important. If you’re at an early career event, and you’ve taken a business card, don’t let that card sit on your table. It’s Networking 101. Respond back and say thank you for the conversation. Make sure they understand how you would make an impact.

Chela Gage: The same on the experienced side. I’ve been a part of interviews where someone has sent me a thank you note before I’ve even left the building that I was interviewing that person in.

Chela Gage: That is very efficient, but I don’t know if they’ve really sat with the conversation and had enough time to deeply understand what I am looking for and how they make an impact. The thank you note that comes to me a week later, that means that person has sat with that conversation for a week and is now really vested. And it makes me take a different spin on efficiency and purpose. There’s many ways to introduce yourself as well as come back to the conversation.

Rob McGuinness: That’s great advice.

Rob McGuinness: Thank you, Chela. And, listeners, if Pratt & Whitney is coming to a career event on your campus, come and see us. We offer a variety of experiences that give you a chance to grow and to put your skills to work.

Rob McGuinness: I think that wraps it up for this episode of Pratt Chat. For Pratt & Whitney Communications, I’m Rob McGuinness. Take care, everyone. 

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