“What we have heard from a lot of the instructors is those students attending these events were great motivators to make sure they stayed within the program,” said Eckenrode. “Instead of an instructor standing in front of class and saying there is an industry ready for you and wanting to employ you, students have the opportunity to meet these businesses first-hand and learn about the opportunities available.”
Eckenrode said the goal is to continue increasing the number of career fairs held each year and track how effective they are.
“Because these career fairs are open to not only seniors, but also students just starting out their technical careers, it’s not always easy to track the successes because students might attend the events, but not be immediately looking for work ,” said Eckenrode. “However, by attending the events, they see what is waiting for them and stay within the programs and are able to network with the participating companies.”
A recent example came as a result of an event held in Tampa earlier this year. The Ferman Auto Group, one of the largest dealership groups in the U.S, hired eight students following one of CREF’s events.
Eckenrode said the CREF team and supporters are continually working to enhance the career fairs. They recently started capturing students’ resumes and contact information electronically so companies that participate have access to the information and can follow up about job opportunities.
Another recent addition is the interview sessions CREF has put into place during some of the career fairs. In some cases, students have the opportunity to participate in a mock interview session while other times, one-on-one interviews are arranged with hiring companies.
To help increase the number of events per year, CREF is working closely with I-CAR committees to create their own local career events. The goal is to have one in every major market. The next Solving the Tech Shortage column will feature information about I-CAR initiatives, including the local career fairs planned by I-CAR committees.