College meets career

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By Nancy Ridgeway
February 9, 2012

Junior Heather Swick arrived at Bradley’s Spring Job and Internship Fair Wednesday well prepared to find the perfect summer internship. “I went to the Smith Career Center website and found the list of employers who would be here. I used that list to research the employers I want to talk to,” Swick said as she sat in the bleachers of the Renaissance Coliseum, mapping the route she would take to make her way through the sea of students and employers at the fair.

The Bradley Scout editor has come to the fair before, but as a reporter covering the event for the student newspaper. This time, the fair was more than a chance to write about the latest campus news. It was an opportunity to find the next steppingstone toward a professional career. Swick planned to talk to representatives from each of the media outlets at the fair, plus Congressman Aaron Schock’s office.

Swick was among 972 students who attended Bradley’s largest spring job fair ever. The event attracted 132 employers; 24 employers attended for the first time. At the fair were representatives from local and regional companies, as well as nationally known firms such as Exelon Corporation, Bridgestone/Firestone, The Bosch Group, Caterpillar Inc., Disney and Sherwin-Williams Company.

Civil engineering and construction major Philip Doll, a senior, came to the job fair ready to talk to representatives from three large companies: Shive-Hattery, F.H. Paschen and McCarthy Building Companies. Doll, interested in a career in engineering design, came prepared with questions about travel options, opportunities for transfers within the company and other considerations. His goal is a summer internship that could lead to full-time employment after he graduates in December 2012.

Among the employers new to the job fair were representatives from BTD Manufacturing in nearby Washington. Ricardo Farciert, a 2011 graduate from Bradley’s Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology (IMET) program, returned to campus as a BTD representative at the fair. Farciert, the first Bradley alumnus to work for the company, says he would like to see more alumni at BTD. “I know where they’re coming from in terms of the classes and professors they’ve had. I can see where they would fit in the company.”

Farciert’s co-worker Courtney Newgard said, “We had a good hire in Ricardo. He knows what relevant experience would be helpful for the company. If we can duplicate him a few times, it would be good for the company.

“Also, we want to nourish a relationship with Bradley because the university is in our own back yard and we’d like to keep the education they’ve received here in the Peoria area.”

Discussing the job fair itself, Newgard said, “I’m impressed with the diversity of companies represented here and am excited to be a part of it.”

Charlie Drier, regional vice president of the Auto-Owners Insurance office in Peoria, has represented his company at Bradley job fairs for many years. Drier cites several reasons for consistently seeking potential employees at Bradley: the university’s proximity to his company’s Peoria office, the quality of students and his overall favorable impression of the Smith Career Center.

Drier is a member of Bradley’s Smith Career Center Employer Board. He said Auto-Owners Insurance is so impressed with the relationship that Drier has with the Smith Career Center that the company is trying to emulate it by fostering relationships between representatives from other regional offices and the universities in their respective areas.

Accompanying Drier to the job fair were actuarial science majors Jeff Kauther ’11 and Steve Evangelista ’09. Both were recruited at previous job fairs and now are employed by Auto-Owners Insurance. They enjoyed meeting with students and encouraged them to relax and enjoy the experience.

Evangelista said, “It feels good to come back where I lived, learned and grew. We know the kind of education students get here. We understand their backgrounds, and even had many of the same teachers.”

Kauther said, “We were in their shoes not long ago. It’s important to find the right fit on both sides; we have a common goal.”