Career fair extends job opportunities

Mary Wardell

As the New Jamrich building expands from a skeleton of beams and columns to a complex system of electrical wiring, plumbing and masonry, students get a front-row view of the whole process just in time for the eighth annual Construction Management & Technology Career Fair, slated for Thursday, Sept. 19.

NMU associate professor of technology and occupational sciences Mike Andary said students are seeing “building relationships in a team structure” on the construction site.

The eighth annual Construction Management & Technology Career Fair will promote construction-related jobs, including construction management, an large component of the New Jamrich construction occurring on campus. (Kristen Koehler NW)
The eighth annual Construction Management & Technology Career Fair will promote construction-related jobs, including construction management, an large component of the New Jamrich construction occurring on campus. (Kristen Koehler NW)

“It’s orchestrated chaos,” Andary said. “On a project like Jamrich, you have a very sophisticated design team with an excellent contractor. You see cranes in the air with pieces of steel that can only go in one place, but you don’t see accidents, people falling or getting skewered. There’s a reason for that. It’s planning: a productive team. It’s an exciting career, and it’s always changing.”

The construction may seem noisy or inconvenient for students navigating campus, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction-related jobs are experiencing average to faster-than-average growth, including in construction management, architectural design, civil engineering and cost estimation, which all require a bachelor’s.

At the career fair, Andary said, students will get the chance to ask questions and seek out career opportunities, internships and summer or part-time employment from regional and national companies.

“All parts of the economic engine [are represented],” Andary said. “Huge conglomerates as well as smaller businesses and everything in between, all looking for new professionals.”

There are about 150 students in the technology and occupational sciences department, said Andary, but other majors could find opportunities at the fair.

Steve LaFond, assistant director of NMU Career Services, said students can benefit from the face-to-face contact with employers.

“Some people are better at applying through the paper process, with resumes and cover letters,” Lafond said. “Others are better face-to-face. At the fair, students can talk to people who actually have the power to do hiring.”

LaFond said he encourages students to dress appropriately as if they are applying for a job.According to the career fair’s website, there are 24 employers attending so far this year, which is up from 19 last year, according to the 2012 event handout.Andary said some companies present job offerings and they conduct interviews on the spot.“[Many employers] have hired our students before,” LaFond said. “That’s why they come back. They like them.”

The construction job fair always coincides with homecoming, Gadzinski said, because many companies have an alumni presence who enjoy a golf outing along with the other homecoming activities during their visit to NMU.

“There are lots of motivated employers,” said Jim Gadzinski, director of the academic and career advisement center. “This is an opportunity for students to get great experience even just in the interview process.”

Andary said the boom in exploratory drilling took four NMU grads from the department to New Mexico, Pennsylvania and North Dakota last year.

“But even in the worst of times, through 2009 and 2010,” Andary said, referring to the effects of the housing crisis. “We didn’t have any downturn in our placement of graduates [in the job field].”