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I am currently in my last year of university and there have been guest lecturers in multiple courses I have taken. Some of them are from companies that hire students for internship positions and/or recent graduates for full-time positions. The next lecturer (from one such company) is the CTO of a company at which I've already applied.

Now the questions I have:

  • Would it be appropriate to talk to the CTO about my application? How should I bring up the topic?
  • In the case where I haven't applied: Is it appropriate to ask? How would I ask about roles for recent grads?
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Would it be appropriate to talk to the CTO about my application? How should I bring up the topic?

Most likely the CTO does not know how the current state of applications to their company is (as those are not a CTO's tasks, and are more appropriate for HR or Recruitment Manager).

Thus, asking him about how your application is going may come up as out of place and may end with no useful answer.

I would suggest you consider asking the CTO other questions relevant to their company, so you can get a better insight of what you can expect if selected.

In the case where I haven't applied: Is it appropriate to ask? How would I ask about roles for recent grads?

In companies you haven't applied, you can first check their websites and posts to see if there are any openings available.

Again, I would suggest you try to ask questions regarding how the company is and operates, instead of asking if they have openings (something that can be found by other more appropriate means), as that will give you better insight if it's worth your time applying to those companies.

Unless the lecturer's role are related to recruiting and HR, asking about job openings may not be the best thing to ask, and surely isn't the point of bringing a professional to give a lecture to you.

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    Great answer. I would just add one suggestion - on the one hand, you definitely don't want to just walk up and ask for a job. But if you end up engaged in a good conversation with the CTO about the company and how they operate, and it naturally leads in a positive direction, it might be appropriate to ask something like, do you have any programs targeted at recruiting new graduates? This can help supplement any info you get about the company's recruiting channels by looking at their website. They may have a contact at the school or some other avenue for new grads that's not well advertised. – dwizum Jan 22 at 18:53
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    good suggestion @dwizum Still, caution and tact is advised so that the conversation gets to that point naturally, so the question does not come out of place. The question you suggest is good option when one reaches that point in the conversation. – DarkCygnus Jan 22 at 19:00
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Yes, it's appropriate to ask about employment (politely). One reason executives come to university campuses is to promote their companies as good places to work.

You can certainly mention that you like what the company's doing, and you sent in an application. Be prepared to answer the question "what do you like about us?" and have a short intelligent conversation.

You can ask if they hire recent grads. You can ask if there's anything else you should do beyond sending in your application.

Have a copy of your resume in your pocket in case the executive requests it. Don't offer it unless requested.

Don't be offended if this executive can't answer your questions or promote your candidacy. Rest assured that the executive won't be offended if university students like you say they're interested in the company.

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The CTO is not responsible for your application, except at very small companies (for example at my current company the CTO is also the hiring manager for all dev positions so he does know these things, but this is the exception not the rule). So I wouldn't ask him directly about your application in particular, because he does not know, nor does he care (he has other more important things to do).

What you can do is:

1) Introduce yourself. It's likely at least that there is a hiring committee, of which the CTO may be a part of. He may see your application eventually, and building a personal relationship is worthwhile.

2) Express interest in his company, in a general sense. Explain that you have applied there, and you are interested in his products/work/research/whatever else it is that interests you about the company.

3) Ask if he can suggest ways to make your application more attractive (if you haven't yet applied), or if there is a person you can reach out to directly for recruitment matters (if you have, or even if you haven't). It's always good to have a direct contact with a first-party company recruiter for any company you want to apply for, rather than sending your application into the void.

4) If after performing the above steps, you feel like you have a good rapport with the CTO of the company, you can ask him for his business card or direct contact information to follow up and keep in touch. There's nothing wrong with trying to build a professional network with a company CTO. However he may decline, and that's ok; he's a busy dude and probably doesn't have time to field random emails from random university students. Don't take it personally. If you do receive his personal contact info, don't treat him like a recruiter or like HR; don't follow up with him just to ask about the status of your application or whatnot, that's neither his job nor his interest. If you want to follow up with him, you can ask him about things like his research, developments in the company, software engineering ideas/strategies, and so on. But remember, he's not HR and he's not going to help you with your application.

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It wouldn't hurt to give your resume or business card. Come dressed professionally.

My advice if you want to appeal to companies is to go to hackatons. I assume you're into the IT field since you want to ask the CTO about jobs. At my company, they hired folks right on the spot at such an event. Of course you have to come to impress.

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