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Employers, students embrace Penn College Career Fair

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s decision to be one of the few benefited many at its recent in-person Fall Career Fair.

Students and employers alike expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet en masse for the first time since October 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 230 employers and 1,450 students participated in the daylong event, split between the college’s Field House and Bardo Gymnasium.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Patrick Hutt, service supervisor for Siemens, a global technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport and health care. “When you meet someone face to face, you pick up on how they portray themselves, how they react to questions. When doing it virtually, you don’t pick up on that stuff at all, so this is a pleasant experience.”

Students network with employers in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Field House during Fall Career Fair including (in foreground) Toyota, which was recruiting for automotive-, business- and communication-related majors.
Students network with employers in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Field House during Fall Career Fair including (in foreground) Toyota, which was recruiting for automotive-, business- and communication-related majors.

“It’s been wonderful. To be able to talk to the students and answer their questions in person has been very helpful,” added Jamie Shortsleeve, recruiter for health care provider and insurer UPMC, the largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania.

According to a recent poll conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 11% of colleges and universities plan to hold in-person career fairs exclusively this academic year. Most expect to offer a combination of in-person and virtual events.

“We were thrilled to provide an in-person Career Fair,” said Erin S. Shultz, career events manager. “While valuable, last year’s virtual fair didn’t offer the interpersonal interaction among students and employers that is critical for both parties during the recruitment process. I think the enthusiasm for the return of the in-person format reflects that reality. We are proud to be one of the few colleges to be able to commit to such an event.”

Tanner J. Layne, an information assurance and cyber security student from Chesapeake, Virginia, rated the in-person experience superior to the virtual platform the college had to implement last year. “It’s much better face to face. I’m able to hand them my resume. They can put a face to the piece of paper that I give them,” he explained.

“You can’t beat meeting someone in person. They remember you better, and you remember them better,” echoed Madison L. Kistler, of Kutztown, who plans to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in applied technology studies and associate degrees in surveying technology and concrete science technology.

Shultz appreciated students and employers adhering to the college’s COVID safety protocols, which required wearing a face mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

“Thanks to their cooperation, our tomorrow makers, representing 100-plus majors, could meet face to face with employers offering thousands of job and internship opportunities,” she said.

Those employers ranged from regional entities to international corporations and included 12 Fortune 500 companies. Available positions represented the swath of Penn College’s innovative hands-on majors in the schools of Engineering Technologies; Nursing & Health Sciences; and Business, Arts & Sciences.

“Just walking around and looking at all the construction industry booths, there are opportunities everywhere,” Kistler said.

“I’ve talked to eight or nine companies,” Lane said. “All seemed very interested. I’m building my networking base and confident I can get an interview.”

So was Wesley S. McCray, an engineering design technology student from Corry. He connected with a representative from one company over their mutual love of racing.

“I got to be right up and personal with companies to learn about them and see what opportunities are available,” he said.                                                         

That proactive, confident approach was typical of many Penn College students, according to a variety of employers.

Representatives of the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee of the Harrisburg-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520 engage a student in Bardo Gymnasium during Pennsylvania College of Technology's in-person Fall Career Fair.
Representatives of the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee of the Harrisburg-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520 engage a student in Bardo Gymnasium during Pennsylvania College of Technology’s in-person Fall Career Fair.

“The students were amazing and well-prepared with questions,” said Penny Folino, business development manager for PTW Energy Services, a provider of fabrication, construction and maintenance services throughout North America.

“They sounded like they knew exactly what they wanted to do when they graduated,” said Mercedes Peterman, recruiter for Phillips Corp., a global supplier of manufacturing technology products and services. “I was very impressed with the conversations I had.”

“The students have all been very professional. They are confident and actually telling us what they want to do,” said Victoria L. Kostecki, sous chef for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, owner and operator of many attractions and venues in Hershey.

Kostecki was one of many Penn College alumni representing employers at the Career Fair. She graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s in applied management and an associate degree in baking and pastry arts.

“I know what the students are learning in the program because of what I went through,” she explained. “It’s been helpful.”

Johnathan T. Capps, automation engineer for Pacproinc, the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of high-speed interleaving and stacking machinery, also was thankful to be on the other side of the table. Capps graduated in 2018 with an associate degree in mechatronics and a bachelor’s in applied technology studies.

“It gives you a completely different perspective, asking the students questions and telling them about the business. It’s really neat to make the students feel at home and make them feel appreciated,” he said. “We’re getting some very good prospects.”

Shultz anticipates that the college will host another in-person Career Fair in the spring and that employer participation will remain strong.

“We had many companies on our waiting list for this fall, and I expect much of the same come spring,” she said.  “Our students and their real-world technical skills are always in high demand.”

For information on Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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