Employers vie for Penn College students at career fair

October 27, 2015

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A new study projects an excellent job market nationwide for college graduates in 2015-16. If Pennsylvania College of Technology’s recent career fair is any indication, that study is correct.

More than 190 employers offering 2,400-plus job and internship opportunities recruited students from all six of Penn College’s academic schools during the fall career fair at the main campus on Oct. 20.

“It was one of our best-attended fall career fairs, both in terms of employers and students,” said Erin S. Shultz, coordinator of career development. “We had 1,469 students attend, an all-time high, and we actually ran out of space for employers because of their tremendous interest in those students. The career fair continues to grow! It speaks to how in demand our students are.”

As a national leader in applied technology education, Penn College boasts a 96 percent graduate placement rate. Self-reported figures by students who graduated during the 2013-14 academic year show starting salaries of $53,000 for bachelor-degree students and $38,876 for associate-degree majors.

“Everything is first-rate. The training and the education the kids get here is spectacular. That’s why we are really looking to strengthen our relationship with the college,” said Dave Kroninger, regional collision repair director for Penske Truck Leasing, on the crowded career fair floor.

Larson Design Group, an agriculture, engineering and surveying firm, has recruited Penn College students for years. According to Alyssa Rogers, the company’s recruiting coordinator, approximately 60 of the firm’s 320 employees are Penn College graduates.

“They are professional, and when they come out, they know their stuff,” she said. “You’re obviously going to have on-the-job training, but they are ready to hit the ground running and start producing for us.”

That sentiment doesn’t surprise Shelley L. Moore, director of career services for the college.

“I’ve been told repeatedly by employers that, because of our emphasis on hands-on application, our students have a shorter training period than recruits from other colleges,” she said.

A recent recruiting trends report issued by Michigan State University projects that employers will be hiring more college graduates compared to last year: a 15 percent increase for bachelor-degree grads and a 23 percent jump for new associate-degree holders.

The researchers surveyed more than 4,700 employers nationwide and found that company growth and employee turnover — an estimated 10,000 baby boomers retire every day ­— are driving an improved job market.

“The thing we hear time and time again is that a lot of employers can’t find enough technically skilled labor, who also have that level of professionalism they are looking for,” Shultz said. “Our students possess those attributes. We receive great feedback from all the employers about the quality of our students.”

Some of that feedback came from General Electric Co., a first-time Penn College career fair participant.

"The Penn College students have definitely been more prepared than students at most of the other career fairs we attend,” said Jenna Gimbar, a human resources representative for GE, one of 25 Fortune 500 companies on hand. “The professionalism that goes on at this school is really noted. We hope this is the start of a long-lasting relationship with the college.”

Many of the soon-to-be Penn College graduates embraced the welcoming vibes emanating from the employers.

"It seems like there are nothing but opportunities in my field,” said manufacturing engineering technology major Jeffery T. Shipley Jr., of Williamsport, who graduates in December. “It feels quite empowering. The employers I’ve spoken with here have been positive.”

“There are a lot of companies here that are willing to grab you,” said David D. Eury, of Shavertown, a building automation technology student scheduled to graduate in May. “There are 32 potential employers here for me. There are 20 in particular that I’m going to approach. It’s great to be needed.”

“It makes you feel good walking in here knowing that any company you walk up to, you can potentially get a job with them,” said Madison T. Powell, of Linden, a plastics & polymer engineering technology major targeting a May graduation. “You want to see everything that is out there. Doesn’t feel like you’re going to be scrambling for a job. It’s a great feeling.”

According to Shultz, some students will secure employment long before commencement.

“It is not uncommon for seniors to be hired, to sign a contract and to know their May or June start date before finals for the fall semester arrive in December,” she said. “We truly offer ‘degrees that work.’”

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, go to www.pct.edu, email admissions@pct.edu or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Last Updated October 27, 2015