The organization coordinated 10 career fairs this spring. Brandon Eckenrode, director of development for CREF, said, "The events went great. We've received great feedback from both vendors and attending students, and students are getting hired at these events."
The fairs were held in Houston, Indianapolis, Orlando, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Phoenix, St. Louis, Nashville and Chicago.
According to Eckenrode, "High school and college collision students, instructors and school administrators who attended said that the events were eye-opening to how many different types of companies are interested in employing the students. Instead of 'just hearing about the industry' from their instructors, students are able to physically see and meet these companies.”
CREF’s Cars, Careers and Celebrities initiative is designed to introduce industry employers to local collision students who will be seeking employment. Students have the opportunity to see the variety of industry companies interested in their future, distribute resumes to potential employers, view product demonstrations, and network with each other.
Eckenrode noted, “These events are meant to serve several purposes. They address the industry’s aging workforce issue by helping to connect students with industry employees, they serve as motivation for students entering their collision education by revealing the opportunities available after they graduate, and they showcase to school administrators that the multi-billion dollar collision repair industry cares about these students, which demonstrates that investing in their collision programs is worthwhile.”
Although the job fairs were a great initial success, CREF is planning improvements, such as electronic registration for students, expanding to new cities, and getting more companies, schools and students involved. The organization also hopes to engage more school administrators in the future, and they are developing a better system for tracking which students are interviewed and hired during these events. CREF also credits and thanks the Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Phoenix I-CAR Volunteer Committees, as those groups took the lead in organizing the events. CREF will look to get additional I-CAR committees involved to schedule even more career fairs in the future.
CREF has released its job fair schedule for Fall 2016 which includes Chicago on September 16; St. Louis on September 23; Boston on October 5; Atlanta on October 20; and Columbus, OH on November 16. They also plan to visit Minneapolis, but the date has not yet been determined. Eckenrode “encourages companies who are interested in participating in these events to reach out to the Education Foundation.”
For more information, contact Brandon Eckenrode at (847) 463-5244 or Brandon.Eckenrode@ed-foundation.org.