Monday, October 23, 2017

Students Explore Options at CVTC Career Fair

Area employers in heavy recruitment mode

Article Photo - Students Explore Options at CVTC Career Fair

CVTC Human Resources program students Brooke Carrigan of Stanley, left, and Shioban Smith of Bloomer talk with Emily Balfanz of Logistics Health Inc. of La Crosse at the Fall Career Fair at CVTC’s Business Education Center in Eau Claire Oct. 18.

Joshua McIlquham believes he has a lot of options after his expected graduation from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in May 2018. He’s in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, and people with such backgrounds are in high demand. McIlquham, a 2015 graduate of Chippewa Falls McDonnel High School, was gauging just how in demand his skills might be by talking with potential employers at CVTC’s Fall Career Fair.

It continues to be a job-seekers market at career fairs, as many businesses report shortages of good applicants in many fields. Approximately 140 employers were recruiting at the CVTC Business, Manufacturing, Health, and Energy education centers Wednesday, Oct. 18. Many students anticipating a December graduation were looking for positions to start their careers. Others were taking a long-term view of the opportunities likely to be before them in the future.

“I’m looking at what companies have to offer,” said McIlquham, who talked with recruiters at the Manufacturing Education Center. “Right now, I’m out of a job and would like to get a little money on the side to help pay my tuition.”

After graduation, McIlquham has the option of marketing his skills immediately, or going on to obtain a bachelor’s degree. “If I get a good job after graduation, I’ll probably take it and get some experience before I go on,” he said.

Over at the Business Education Center, Human Resources program students Brooke Carrigan and Shioban Smith, were looking for what’s available for people in their field.

Carrigan, a 2015 Stanley-Boyd High School graduate, expects to graduate from CVTC in May. “So far, I really like the recruiting and selection part of HR,” she said. “And I’d like to work in business, possibly a healthcare related company.”

Smith, a 2016 Bloomer High School graduate, has more time to consider options, planning her CVTC graduation for December 2018. “I’m just trying to get a feel for it,” she said. “I’m thinking of working for a staffing agency after I graduate, but I haven’t fully decided yet.”

“I’m going to be looking at Menards, and there are a couple of other companies that are looking for mobile software developers,” said Will Blake of Eau Claire, who will graduate from a CVTC Information Technology program in December.

The employers’ reason for attending the Career Fair were diverse as well. At the Manufacturing Education Center, industrial mechanics, machinists and welders were in high demand, as usual, with many employers having immediate openings. At the Business Education Center, employers were looking for everything from automotive mechanics and computer technicians to business managers and sales people.

Among the companies was Festival Foods of La Crosse, which is in heavy recruitment mode to staff three former Gordy’s grocery stores they recently acquired.

“We’re looking for college students who are looking for part-time work while they are going to school. We have new stores opening December 1,” said shift manager Shane Motszko. He added, though, that the company usually hires from within for its leadership development program that can turn former college student workers into department managers.

Public institutions were well-represented at the Career Fair, too. “It has become more challenging to fill positions with unemployment low,” said Jill Angus of Eau Claire County’s human resources office. “We like to be more proactive and get out in the community.” Among the county’s needs are computer systems analysts and law enforcement personnel.