Education

Employers Praise Students at Stem College Job Fair

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Rachel Jordan is pretty familiar with career fairs. And a lot of that familiarity comes from being a job seeker rather than an exhibitor.

Jordan today is a human resources associate for Nordson Corp., which was among the companies looking to fill internship, co-op and full-time positions at the Youngstown State University College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics’ spring 2017 job expo.

“I graduated three years ago so I’m pretty familiar with career fairs and the prep that goes into them. I’m not too far removed from it myself,” she said.

Nordson, which recently acquired a former warehouse in Austintown where it plans to consolidate manufacturing operations for its Nordson Xaloy division, was seeking engineers, mostly mechanical engineers, for internships as well as to fill full-time positions.

Jordan said she was “very impressed” with the students she met.

“They’re all dressed very professionally, they’re presenting themselves well, they all have copies of their resume, and they’ve done some research on the company to be able to give us at least a general gist of what they’ve seen on our website. We’ve found really good mechanical engineers who fit what we’re looking for,” she said. “We’ve found a lot of good talent here.”

The expo drew 64 employers, reported Sherri Hrusovski, director of STEM professional services. She estimated more than 500 students would participate in the four-hour event.

“Since we became the College of STEM, we are finding out that more employees want to look at the students who are into science, computer technology, engineering and mathematics areas,” Hrusovski said.

The expo began in fall 2012 as a joint effort with YSU’s Williamson College of Business Administration. “In the fall of 2014 we decided to go on our own and we’ve been doing it ever since,” she said.

To prepare for the expo, the college hosts workshops to prepare students for meeting with employers.

MSSL Wiring System Inc., a first-time exhibitor, was recruiting entry-level engineers to work at its Warren location as well as others across North America. “We’re very encouraged by what we’ve seen,” said Michael Jocola, director of human resources.

Pay starts at around $50,000 annually for the entry-level positions, and rises from there based on performance. “You need to be competitive to get the right people and that’s something we’re committed to,” Jocola said.

Tom Campana, said his company, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Akron, was mainly looking to fill electrical engineering positions in its co-op program with students who are going to be graduating in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

“I’m surprised at the number of students that have come by the booth and they are prepared,” Campana said. “They have brought their resumes and we are looking forward to talking more with some of the students.”

Also among the companies looking to add to their workforce was Vallourec USA Corp. The subsidiary of the France-based steel giant had downsized in recent years due to the downturn in the oil and gas industry – its Youngstown operations produce pipe used in drilling – but business has seen a “significant upturn,” said Chris Allen, talent acquisition manager.

“I’ve been finding, just from the resumes I’ve seen, very qualified, very smart students,” he said. Deciding “which ones we’re going to move forward with” is going to be difficult, he acknowledged.

Allen also was impressed with more than just the technical qualifications of the students. “We find especially here at YSU that the students have a  better understanding of the soft skills because a lot of them are working right now,” Allen said. “So they’re able to approach you a bit easier than, say, [students at] some of the other universities that we go to.”

Sunshine Terrell, human resources manager with Indianapolis-based Neff Group Distributors Inc., was looking for individuals with more than just a technical background to fill full-time sales positions. Among the products the company markets are robots used in manufacturing, an example of which was on display at the Neff booth.

“We’re looking for engineers but we want that outgoing personality, the eye contacts, the communications ability,” Terrell said.

“Not everyone has the skills that we’re looking for,” she added. “We have found some good candidates.”

Emily Hawthorn, a junior from Clarion, Pa., studying chemical engineering, was seeking an internship at the expo. She has attended the event several times before and praised the employers who participate.

“They’re willing to discuss what their company’s about if you’re not familiar with the background,” Hawthorn said. “Even if they don’t specifically have a spot for you, they are very encouraging in directing you toward where you could go.”

The STEM College tracks students’ efforts at the expo as much as possible by following up with employers after the event to see which ones brought on students for jobs, internships or co-ops, and in which disciplines, Hrusovski said.

Pictured: Rachel Jordan  is a human resources associate for Nordson Corp., which was among the companies looking to fill internship, co-op and full-time positions at the STEM College job expo.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.