The new and improved version of the Collision Repair Education Foundation career fairs is going strong.
Businesses across the transportation industries, including collision repair, automotive services, heavy duty auto and diesel automotive, are meeting their matches, and new graduates are finding their happily-ever-after careers.
"I got a young and enthusiastic tech out of [the career fair]" said Aleksei Keller, general manager at Gerber Collision. "We have seen Ricky's skill grow tremendously over a short period, and he is the embodiment of what this company is about---doing a proper repair while trying to WOW our customers."
What makes these career fairs new and improved isn't just the addition of hiring industries outside of collision repair, but also CREF's new partnerships with TechForce Foundation and S/P2. Working with these partners allows CREF to help high school and college students and graduates prepare for the interviews they dream of getting as a result of the fair, facilitate onsite interviews and play a more active role in employment presentations.
"I had an idea of what opportunities were available to me in collision repair from school," said Enrique Dorantes, a Gerber Collision technician hired at a CREF career fair last year. "At the fair, I learned about the technician development program at Gerber, and I jumped on it because it was a good learning opportunity."
Each career fair hosts upwards of 400 students and a variety of hiring businesses in the transportation industries. The goal is to pair the brightest new graduates with the most lucrative entry-level positions in the industries.
Dorantes said the opportunities he found in school all required more experience than his education provided, so prior to the career fair, he was looking at taking a low-paying job just to get his feet wet.
"I needed more real-world experience. School was 80 percent textbook learning and 20 percent hands-on. Gerber offered me an opportunity to learn on the job and they provide tools, which isn't something I could find just anywhere,” he said.
Keller is ecstatic with Gerber's hire just six months in.