Daniel Roman, a student at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) – Houston was struggling to find his balance earlier this year, but a Collision Career Fair hosted by the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) and ASE helped him turn things around when he landed a job at Premier CARSTAR.
Keith Schieffer, Roman’s Instructor at UTI – Houston, noted, “Dan had been struggling with attendance, often arriving to class late due to a demanding work schedule in an unrelated industry. He was very close to course failure for the second course in a row as a result, but he was excited about the CREF and ASE Career Fair and the possibility of interviewing for a part-time position in the collision repair industry. Dan landed a position at Premier CARSTAR in Houston and gave notice to his other job, and since changing jobs, he has been on time, alert and active in learning. I’m grateful to the Foundation for making this possible for him.”
According to Brandon Eckenrode, Director of Development for CREF, “It was great hearing about how the career fair helped Daniel, and as the Collision Repair Education Foundation and ASE are working together on events similar to this around the country, we hope we can assist thousands of other students. Instead of instructors just talking about the industry to their students, the students get to meet and interact with the industry companies who are interested in their futures at these career fairs.”
UTI – Houston’s students are graded based on a professionalism score, and Roman was close to failing midway through his three-week course due to tardiness. According to Schieffer, “Dan was tired and unfocused due to his time-consuming security job and its late hours, but he wanted to learn. He signed up for the Career Fair that CREF and ASE held in Houston on March 22, and after getting a less time-consuming job in the collision repair industry, he has had almost perfect attendance. His grades, energy and attitude have all improved because he has a job in the field he’s interested in; everything changed almost immediately, thanks to the contacts he made during the Career Fair.”
Roman was at a crossroads with his future career, but despite the difficulty of going to school while working evenings, he did not want to give up. Schieffer believes the Career Fair improved his student’s future career potential, stating, “He is more attentive to his studies and will make a better technician. He’s now doing entry-level tasks at Premier CARSTAR, and I hear he’s doing really well and enjoying it. He’s confident with his new job, and I expect great things from Dan in the future.”
CREF and ASE’s Career Fairs are extremely beneficial for students in the industry as it allows them to make contact with potential employers, and Schieffer added, “The Career Fairs make it more real for students. Entering this industry can be intimidating, and many students don’t believe they’ll fit in, but getting in touch with these companies and learning how much new technicians are needed helps them realize their goals aren’t too lofty to be achieved. CREF and ASE’s Career Fairs are more focused than those that are not specific to the automotive industry, and that’s a huge advantage.”
Attending CREF and ASE’s Career Fairs is also beneficial for instructors and employers. Potential employers receive the opportunity to get to know possible future employees on a more personal level, allowing them to better gauge the student’s personality and skill level. The biggest benefit for instructors, according to Schieffer, is “gaining credibility because the students can see the truth behind our claims that they are highly sought after, plus it’s interesting to see the interaction between the students and the employers. It allows instructors to better judge what employers need; I wish more instructors would attend CREF and ASE’s Career Fairs.”
Schieffer highly recommends collision repair industry students attend CREF and ASE’s Career Fairs. “Students get to make personal contacts at companies they make work for in the future, and it helps with their communication and interview skills," he explained. "It’s important that we also teach our students how to conduct themselves and about proper eye contact and body language. I tell my students not to be nervous and to be prepared by bringing their resumes, training certificates and other documents in order to make a good first impression. Schools should do more to incorporate these types of skills into training programs; allowing students to practice their interview skills can help them be better prepared.”
Schieffer is very excited that CREF and ASE have recently implemented a follow up process to ascertain how many students receive positive results from attending the organization’s Career Fairs. “The results are obvious, but a lot of students make contact at these events, and we don’t get to hear all of their success stories," he said. "It would be great to hear more of them and see that we’re really doing things right.”
CREF and ASE will be hosting five more Career Fairs this spring: in Chicago, IL on May 2; Madison, WI on May 3; St. Louis, MO on May 5; Denver, CO on May 8; and Nashville, TN on May 17. Their fall Career Fair schedule will be announced over the summer. “We look forward to wrapping up our spring schedule of career fairs and plan to announce our fall schedule of career fair events in the next month or two,” Eckenrode stated.