Joshua McIlquham believes he has a lot of options after his expected graduation from Chippewa Valley Technical College in May.
McIlquham is enrolled one of the CVTC STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, and people with such backgrounds tend to be in high demand.
McIlquham, a 2015 graduate of Chippewa Falls McDonell Central Catholic High School, was gauging just how in demand his skills might be by talking with potential employers at CVTC’s Fall Career Fair on Oct. 18. About 140 employers were recruiting at the CVTC Business, Manufacturing, Health, and Energy education centers that day.
Many students anticipating a December graduation were looking for positions to start their careers. Others were taking a longterm view of the opportunities likely to be before them in the future.
“I’m looking at what companies have to offer,” said McIlquham, who talked with recruiters at the Manufacturing Education Center. “Right now, I’m out of a job and would like to get a little money on the side to help pay my tuition.”
After graduation, McIlquham has the option of marketing his skills immediately or going on to obtain a bachelor’s degree. “If I get a good job after graduation, I’ll probably take it and get some experience before I go on,” he said.
CVTC students Brooke Carrigan and Shioban Smith attended the recruiting session to see what’s available for people in their field. Carrigan, a 2015 Stanley-Boyd High School graduate, expects to graduate from CVTC in May.
“So far, I really like the recruiting and selection part of (human resources),” she said. “And I’d like to work in business, possibly a health care related company.”
Smith, a 2016 Bloomer High School graduate, has more time to consider options. She plans to graduate in December, 2018. “I’m just trying to get a feel for it,” she said.
“I’m thinking of working for a staffing agency after I graduate, but I haven’t fully decided yet.”
“I’m going to be looking at Menards, and there are a couple of other companies that are looking for mobile software developers,” said Will Blake of Eau Claire, who will graduate from a CVTC Information Technology program in December.
Like students, employers’ reasons for attending the Career Fair were diverse as well. At the Manufacturing Education Center, industrial mechanics, machinists and welders were in high demand, as usual, with many employers having immediate openings. At the Business Education Center, employers were looking for everything from automotive mechanics and computer technicians to business managers and sales people.
Among the companies at the event was La Crosse-based Festival Foods, which is recruiting workers to staff three former Gordy’s grocery stores, including two in Eau Claire. Public institutions were well-represented at the career fair as well.
“It has become more challenging to fill positions with unemployment low,” said Jill Angus of Eau Claire County’s human resources office. “We like to be more proactive and get out in the community.”
Among the county’s needs are computer systems analysts and law enforcement personnel, she said.