Construction Fair

Bill Stiffler of Turner Construction Company talks with a student during the Construction Management Career Fair on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Over the course of a semester, the fair has doubled in the number of companies.

The Construction Management Fair took place Saturday in the Student Center Ballroom and provided the 100 students who attended a chance to network with 52 different companies. These companies came from the Northeastern Ohio area and seven other states including Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Many companies at the fair brought Kent State alums along to help recruit and talk with other students. Joe Karpinski, the construction management program coordinator, said there were about 25 Kent State graduates who attended this year's fair with their companies.

“I think the career fair expands students exposure to all the different outlets of construction,” Ashley Tiano, a construction management graduate said. “There’s lots of avenues in construction, but sometimes students are only aware of the common companies.”

Tiano graduated from the construction management program in fall of 2014 and is currently employed by Infinity Construction as an assistant project engineer. Tiano was also one of the many Kent State construction management graduates to attend the career fair with her company to help recruit students for a growing industry.

Graduate Jason Ohlsson, who now works for Gilbane building company, said the career fair helped him get his first internship with Great Lakes Construction Company and advises students who are looking for an internship to keep in contact with the companies they meet and take time to reach out to know that you’re interested.  

“Besides internship and networking opportunities, the fair gives students a chance to improve their interview skills by talking with professionals while also seeing what companies are out there,” Ohlsson said.

The diverse amount of companies at the fair gives students like Brian Morris, a second year construction management major, the chance to learn about all the types of companies to help him focus in his studies.

“There were companies with very specific backgrounds and project types and since I’m not quite sure what type I want to work with yet, the number of companies helped me learn more about what I want to do and will hopefully open some doors for my future career,” Morris said.

Meanwhile, students like Frank Weitoish, who are just starting out in the program, said that although the fair was intimidating at first, talking with different companies made the event extremely informative and was pleasantly surprised that companies were looking to take on interns early on to get hands-on experience.

Karpinski said that because most freshman in the construction management program take classes in document reading, building materials and the intro to construction management course, they already have the basic skills they need in order to get an internship.

The construction management program, which began in 2007, has grown to around 170 students over the years. Karpinski said there's usually more internship offers and jobs than there are students to accept them.

He said that many students already have jobs lined up for after they graduate this May. He is urging companies to take students on as interns now because by the time they’re graduating, most of the time companies have already picked them up.

“They need to get ahold of them early and find out where they fit in their company if they want to keep a certain student,” Karpinski said.  

Elizabeth Bailey, a senior construction management major, recently got hired this past fall by Hensel Phelps Construction Company and stresses the importance of students getting their resumes out to companies as well as staying involved through organizations and competitions.

“If I hadn’t stayed involved, I never would have connected with or gotten the job with Hensel Phelps,” Bailey said.

Karpinski said previously he estimates about half of the students who attended the fair in the past would get internships. Now, he said that because the fair has grown so large, especially since last fall, he predicts that percentage will go up as a result of the increase of opportunities.

“Most students in their senior year are going to have multiple job offers and it's a tough decision,” Karpinski said. “If it's a good company, they can’t really go wrong but in the end it really comes down to deciding if the grass is greener on this side of the fence or the other.”

 

Jenna Kuczkowski is the College of Applied Engineering Reporter, contact her at jkuczkow@kent.edu.

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