Employers, Students Flock to STEM Intern/Co-op Expo

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — With a record 31 employers showing up, students turned out in droves Wednesday to meet company representatives and present their resumes at the Youngstown State University College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Internship/Co-op Expo in Kilcawley Center.

Last school year, the STEM College began hosting its own expo rather be part of a joint fair with other colleges. That decision has resulted in attracting more and more employers every semester, said the associate dean of the college, Stephen Rodabaugh.

“There’s value in all of the companies here. There are big companies with a lot of different kinds of opportunities for STEM majors and also startup companies,” he said. “Our grants give us ways of helping those startups to get interns and co-ops with our students.”

The college has two grants from the Ohio Board of Regents and one from the Department of Labor to fund efforts that place students in paid internships and co-ops.

“All of these grants promote JobsOhio key industries, manufacturing internships and other things that will stoke economic revitalization in this region,” Roadabaugh added.

Almost all companies at the fair have a presence in the Mahoning Valley and said they have had good experiences with YSU graduates.

“We spent a lot of time at technical schools and found that YSU was a much better fit,” said Tony Burke, engineering manager for the Vulcraft division in Chemung, N.Y., of Nucor Corp., a steelmaker. “Not only because of the steel industry background and the hardworking folks, but also the technical ability to solve problems and move up into leadership positions in the company.”

At the fair, seven Nucor employees from divisions of the company in Indiana, Georgia, New York and Ohio talked to students.

“We have several internships at all of divisions across the United States and full-time engineering positions at our steel mills, fabricated products groups, Vulcraft and our metal-buildings division,” Burke said. “We’re recruiting for the entire corporation.”

Having companies such as Nucor, which employs 22,000 at 200 sites nationwide, benefits the students as well, allowing them to get their foot in the door in many cases.

“Just understanding and acknowledging these companies to let them know you’re coming up can, hopefully, get you an opportunity,” said Weston Wagner, a senior majoring in civil engineering. “The benefits are immense. They’re here for us. This is all supplied for the students. They want us to meet them and to put a face to the company.”

And for companies looking to hire, having eager students pays off.

“The programs here are good, especially the civil engineering and technology programs,” said Nick Chammas, vice president of ACA Engineering. “Since 2002, we’ve interviewed 162 YSU students and hired 66 of them to our office in Boardman. We’ve had good success here.”

As for the students, from his earlier visits Wagner has learned that instant impressions make the largest impact on potential employers.

“They want to know who you are in the first 30 seconds. If you can do that and ring a bell, that’s what they’re looking for,” he said. “They want you to sell yourself in those 30 seconds on why you should be a part of their company.”

While it “wouldn’t be the end of the world” if he didn’t get a job as a result of the expo, Wagner said he had some good leads.

“My hope is to hear back from some people. In itself, this has been a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s awesome that all of these people are here to see what’s coming up in the graduating classes.”

Pictured: Nick Chammas, vice president, ACA Engineering Inc., and Kelly Kovacevich, a YSU sophomore majoring in civil engineering.

Copyright 2015 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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