YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Jillian Jakse arrived at Youngstown State University from Columbus three years ago, and after falling in love with the city, she doesn’t plan on leaving.
“I came here and I fell in love with Youngstown, so I’d like to stick around a while longer,” Jakse said.
Jakse was one of hundreds of YSU and high school students networking and job searching with local companies at the YSU Fall STEM Expo.
The expo, which is held twice annually, is part of YSU’s mission to address the growing need for STEM workers. Millions of STEM jobs are projected to go unfilled soon with an estimated 3.5 million jobs that will need to be filled by 2025, according to the Society for Human Resource management, an HR membership association based in Virginia.
The event, hosted by the STEM Professional Services Careers, Internships and Co-ops Office, included 125 local employers, plus three virtually, looking to fill internship, co-op, and full-time/entry-level STEM positions.
Jakse, a junior civil engineering student, came to the expo to check out M.S. Consultants and Gateway Engineering for possible internships and job opportunities once she graduates.
Jakse will join a pool of local talent that companies are looking to hire from. Rick Evans, project manager with G. Stephens Construction, said the company likes to hire locally for its offices.
The company is headquartered in Akron but has offices in Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Toledo.
“Youngstown is a hotspot because most of our work is in Akron and Pittsburgh right now, so if we can bring in some YSU students that are willing to maybe relocate or drive half an hour to an hour that seems perfect,” Evans said.
Klea Shehu, a junior civil engineering major, came to the expo to talk about a possible internship with G. Stephens Construction. She saw the company online and liked that it was mostly on-site construction work.
“I thought it would give it a try, I think it’s going well so far,” Shehu said.
Chade Stewart, a marketing coordinator at Pittsburgh-based Cosmos Technologies with offices in Cleveland, Akron and Louisville, Ky., says hiring locally benefits the company because local hires already know the market.
“If you’re trying to break into the market, you already have someone who’s been on the ground with some experience,” Stewart said.
Mary Cobham, also a marketing coordinator with Cosmos, added that recent college grads are often apprehensive to leave, and landing a local job can make the transition less intimidating.
“Getting a job right out of school not too far away from home was pretty comforting and makes joining the workforce a lot less daunting,” she said. “We also believe in recruiting local talent because you don’t have to go to more urbanized areas like New York, or DC to find very talented students who are just right there in your backyard.”
Some employers came to the expo to share opportunities with students who might not be aware that STEM jobs exist outside of the traditional market. Cassandra Sanders, senior talent sourcer for Medical Mutual, said many new graduates do not fully grasp the wide range of employment opportunities available to them.
“The insurance industry is a billion-dollar industry — it’s a field filled with an array of opportunities for professionals, and a lot of students aren’t aware of this,” she said. “We’re here to shed some light on the wonderful careers that are available in the industry and support Youngstown State and the initiatives that are happening here.”
Pictured at top from left: G. Stephens Construction project manager Rick Evans speaks with Klea Shehu, a junior civil engineering major.