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CMT career fair promotes student opportunities

CMT Career FairINTERNET-01
(Source: Chris Soelburg)

Blueprints and measurements, concrete, asphalt and industry competitors are just a few of the things that will fill Weber State University’s D3 ballroom on Jan. 22.

The Parsons Construction Management Technology program will host its eighth annual CMT career fair at the new Davis campus building, D3. Students, faculty, staff and industry leaders are invited to come and see what the construction industry has to offer.

Richard Thorn, president of the Associated General Contractors of Utah, said AGCU has a student chapter at WSU and works closely with the CMT faculty and leadership of the university to promote construction as a career for CMT students and create opportunities for all WSU students.

“We are committed to Weber State, and the career fair is something that is important to us, because it gives us, through our membership, a chance to showcase our industry and what we believe is a great career alternative,” Thorn said. “When you have an opportunity to share your resume or work history with members who are doing the vast majority of work in the state, from a student’s perspective, it gives you a great opportunity to land that job and try to begin your career.”

Chris Soelburg, WSU associate professor and program coordinator, said WSU decided to separate the CMT program from the WSU Career Fair, because many students were unable to attend, as many CMT students are already working in the industry. With it now being offered in the evening, more CMT students are able to attend.

Soelburg said some companies decide not to come and he believes that is a shame, because when students and companies get to know each other, it forms a relationship that can grow into a job opportunity.

“Those companies who don’t attend because they aren’t hiring, in my opinion, don’t understand how construction hiring works,” Soelburg said. “I applaud those companies who come and support us every year. And the students know who those companies are and want to work for those companies because they are forward thinkers.”

Thorn said that, from an ACGU member’s perspective, “WSU provides a fertile field of top-drawer candidates” that AGCU can choose from to come and work for its firms.

“The program the CMT folks put together is becoming widely recognized, and the students coming out are well trained, well educated, (and) they’ve got good common sense, because they live in both the practical world as well as the academic, getting the education needed to become well credentialed,” Thorn said. “They basically hit the ground running, which helps our members’ firms be productive and profitable without having to go through a gigantic learning curve.”

Garry Claflin, Elkhorn Construction Operations manager for Wyoming and North Dakota and a 2002 alumnus of WSU’s CMT program, said the oil and gas industry lacks in hiring within their own company. He said he wanted to make sure Elkhorn had great prospects to advance within his establishment.

“We have a position called the project coordinator that really seems to work out well for recent graduates as a steppingstone to becoming a project manager,” Claflin said. “I was able to propel my career because of what I learned in the CMT program. Most people in my career are in their 50s and I am only 35, so it really jump-started my career in getting that knowledge that I could bring to the company.”

Karen Doutre, WSU career adviser and internship coordinator for the College of Applied Science & Technology, said she looked up construction management on the Department of Workforce Services’ website, and it is a five-star position. “This is one of the best-paying careers that you can step into, and a lot of students don’t really connect that.”

The Associated Builders & Contractors sponsored a kickoff event Jan. 14 to help students prepare for the upcoming career fair. Students were able to sit down with industry leaders who donated their time to review students’ resumes and do mock interviews.

“We have a really strong alumni, and they all really want to give back,” Doutre said. “It is such a benefit to the students, and the people who are actually hiring for those positions are giving the students the input they need to be successful.”

Claflin said Elkhorn has hired more than eight students from the CMT program in the past few years, some of whom are in project management positions or are project coordinators.

“The construction industry continues to have a low unemployment rate,” he said, “which helps students stay focused on their degree, because they know they will have a job when they graduate.”

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