Spreading the word: Campus Specialists connect students and universities with Viasat

Tech employees and specialists team up on campus to meet the next generation of talent


Tech employees and specialists team up on campus to meet the next generation of talent

A day on a college campus may bring up memories of walks on the quad, coffee and conversations with friends and cheering the team at a football game. But for Viasat’s team of campus specialists, a day on campus is a quick-paced flurry of activity.

The demand for tech employees is growing, which means competition for tech talent is fierce.

That’s where Viasat’s campus specialists come in. The team is charged with not only finding quality employees but building long-lasting relationships with students and campuses that enhance Viasat’s reputation as a top tech employer and the ideal place to launch a career.

“The job market is definitely very competitive, and high-quality students get offers very quickly,” said Rachel Gardinier, a campus specialist with responsibilities on the East Coast, Midwest and Texas.

The team also includes Brandon Lobb – who has the West Coast and Arizona campuses in his portfolio – and Jamie Aguirre, who helps manage the community of Viasat employees. Those employees are subject matter experts who offer their time to meet with students – increasing awareness of Viasat and offering insight into what it’s like to work here.

After the specialists and engineers make the initial contacts with students, the campus specialists work diligently to ensure a seamless handoff to recruiters on the University Relations and Recruiting team to facilitate the more formal interview and hiring process.

“The majority of the students we’re seeking are in software engineering, and the upper-echelon students are also being recruited by Google, Facebook and Apple,” Lobb said.

Building on-campus relationships

Campus specialists are also helping build and support the Viasat brand on college campuses. That means engaging with students early in their academic careers to introduce them to Viasat, long before they may be considering their career search. On most campuses, Viasat doesn’t yet have the name recognition of some of tech’s heavy hitters, but the specialists are working to change that.

“Students often don’t realize the variety of work Viasat does,” Gardinier said. “But when we mention that they might have used our Wi-Fi on a recent flight, or that we actually build our own satellite payloads and antennas, they get really excited.”

Building brand awareness and relationships includes scheduling tech talks in classrooms; organizing information sessions and tech demos with student groups; connecting candidates with offers in hand with employees with similar stories; and even coaching students on how to build a resume and approach an interview.

Creating those campus bonds can be both fun and challenging.

Gardinier said the specialists often try to integrate local food into their visits, especially for more casual lobby days and social events.

“At Georgia Tech, we do a Donut Drop-In event with Sublime donuts,” she said. “Sublime is super popular with the students and this is becoming a staple event every semester on campus.”

The company often partners with academic departments, innovation and entrepreneurial centers and student groups dedicated to excellence in diversity, like the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers and Veteran Affairs, among others.

“We’re developing relationships on campuses before we even have roles open. We aim to be the eyes and ears on campus,” said Tracie Davee, who leads Viasat’s University Relations team. “Our team provides a concierge service for universities and our business areas to connect. Our goal is to know the students, the faculty, the alumni, and the staff influencers. So when the jobs open or another business need is identified, we know exactly who to go in order to meet the objective.”

Viasat tech employees join in recruiting efforts

Recruiting is a team effort at Viasat, where team subject matter experts often accompany the campus specialists to events. These employees give students a real-world view of life as a Viasat employee, and they can do a technical screen to ensure the students have the know-how to be successful at Viasat.

Adam Barbato, a software engineer in the Carlsbad office who joined the company in 2017, easily relates to students, and his excitement for his work is heartfelt.

“I love my work and the projects we work on,” Barbato said. “I didn’t expect to enjoy my day-to-day as much as I do. I love coming to work in the morning. I go to the cafeteria and gym, I’ve played basketball (outside) with the interns. It’s definitely a campus community.”

The tech employees take their campus obligations seriously. During a winter visit to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, temperatures dipped to minus-40 degrees. The school canceled classes, but not the career fair.

“So all the engineers and I plugged on and met tons of students that day still willing to trek through the freezing cold,” Gardinier said. “I couldn’t have asked more of the engineers being there during those freezing cold days. They definitely showed dedication and determination.”

Campus specialists say they relish the opportunity to spread the word about Viasat, even though it may sometimes be hectic.

For his part, Lobb said he’s simply speaking from the heart.

“I love the culture here, and I legitimately don’t know anyone who comes to work at Viasat who doesn’t want to be here,” he said. “I also think there’s really truth in the fact we say that interns and university grads can come in and make an impact right away – which I don’t think is true at every company. Good ideas are good ideas and it doesn’t matter who they come from. And I’ve seen it happen.”