State Tech Career Expo another big hit

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 2/21/24

LINN   — Last week’s two-day Career Expo at State Tech drew about 400 companies seeking interaction with students who might benefit their business after graduation.

State Tech …

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State Tech Career Expo another big hit


LINN  — Last week’s two-day Career Expo at State Tech drew about 400 companies seeking interaction with students who might benefit their business after graduation.

State Tech President Dr. Shawn Strong is not surprised the event was a huge success. “Over and over again, we hear from seasoned recruiters that of all the career fairs they attend, nothing compares to State Tech’s,” he said. “We get a lot of good students, and our instructors do a great job preparing them for careers. We know it’s not just technical knowledge that employers want; they also want what most call ‘soft skills.’ That’s just the way we do things at State Tech. The faculty and staff have a single mission — to prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning. Nobody does it better, just like nobody puts on a Career Expo like (Career Services Director) Scott Peters.”

With more than 450 employer booths registered for the event, State Tech was at 77% capacity and 100 companies higher than last year.

Peters noted that planning for the Career Expo usually starts four months before the event. He started planning last summer. “There was a lot of data from previous expos that had to be reviewed to determine exactly how it should be divided into two days,” Peters explained. “I had to take into consideration which programs an employer would most likely hire from, and in many cases, which programs would hire from multiple programs. For example, an employer wanting to hire a Heavy Equipment Operator would most likely be looking for a Diesel Mechanic as well. It made sense to put the transportation programs on the same day as the civil construction and utilities programs. The second day of the expo had some of the same similarities, which was dedicated to manufacturing, industrial maintenance, computer networking, and business.”

Additionally, Peters considered the number of students in each program. “Luckily, when I ran the student enrollment numbers for each day, it came out almost perfectly. There were nearly 1,000 first and second-year students each day looking for internships and full-time employment.”

Peters worked closely with academic program chairs to get their input on the best possible scenario for employers and students. 

Over the two-day event, an additional 1,000 representatives from 400 employers were on campus.

“Employers always tell us this is by far the best career fair they attend in the state,” said Peters. “It amazes me how fast the expo fills as soon as I send the email in November that registration is open. The expo was at 300 employers by Thanksgiving. Another 100 came in over December and January. That’s where we picked up the majority of our newest employers for the expo.”

Though Peters is the primary person responsible for coordinating the event, he said he couldn’t put together the event without the faculty and staff who volunteered to make this event a success. 

“The secret of our success is the faculty,” said Peters. “They build a relationship with students, who respect their instructors and look to them for guidance.”

Peters agreed with Dr. Strong that instructors prepare students for the expo and gainful employment.

He noted that several companies sent emails regarding their interaction with students.

— “Each of your students that approached our booth (was) well-mannered and respectful!”

— “Very pleased with the turnout and had several really good conversations.”

— “All the students we met were professional and passionate about creating a career.”

— “The students were well prepared, professional, and clearly had direction on soft skills necessary to land a good job. I was thoroughly impressed.”

— “We were very impressed with the students that we engaged with and their preparedness to talk careers and opportunities. The fact they had resumes ready to hand out was very professional. This is one of the best career fairs we have been to.”

Peters added that he can plan and execute the event. “But I can’t take any of the credit for how impressed the employers are with the students! That’s all the faculty.”

VP of External Relations Shannon Grus called Peters a rock star. “He has worked tirelessly to grow the event for our students,” she added, noting State Tech expanded the Career Expo to four sessions over two days to accommodate growth in employer participation and the school’s population. “After this successful trial run of a two-day expo, we plan to continue with this model next year. It allows more companies to participate, and there is room for additional growth in our student population.”

More than 40 employers joined faculty, deans, and administrators at last Tuesday’s President’s Social at Osage View after the expo’s first day.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe attended the reception and welcomed the employers to the expo. He spoke about State Tech’s important role in workforce development in Missouri and visited with attendees.