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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Creating jobs for IT students with hiring event

Several manufacturing companies interviewed Pierce College students who were interested in employment for industrial technology job positions yesterday, Wednesday Nov. 2.

Raffi Kahwajian, program specialist for LA Regional Career Pathways, organized the industrial tech hiring event expecting a minimum of 12 scheduled appointments made by students. This year’s event was different from last semester’s because Kahwajian wanted to improve organization throughout the interview process.

The hiring event that took place last semester was not based off scheduled appointments online, but relied on walk-ins. Although this event still allowed walk-ins as well as pre-employment tests, this time around, Kahwajian developed a new strategy to create more structure.

“Usually Pierce College students are used to events where they walk around and take pamphlets or information from different companies, ask questions and move on, but this is an actual hiring event,” Kahwajian said. “We put in a lot of effort in being proactive and front loading the event so it’s organized. All of the time slots and the companies were already organized in advance. I sent out an email where I had organized the whole event on Eventbrite where students had to access it.”

The event consisted of various time slots from different companies for each candidate. Prior to the event, students were provided job descriptions on the Eventbrite website under the company names they were interested in applying for. From there, the student was able to pick an appointment for more than one company.

In addition to the appointment process, students were also allowed to submit their resumes for constructive criticism and tips for advancement. Kahwajian and Tracy Difillippis, sector strategies manager of Goodwill, also hosted a workshop for students on how to present themselves during a job interview on Wednesday Oct. 26.

Kahwajian reviewed the do’s and don’ts with students regarding how to put together an effective resume, and also how to best prepare and perform during an interview.

LA Regional Career Pathways is a grant agreement with the college district, Pierce College, high schools and industry partners, according to Kahwajian. This grant focuses only on the hiring in manufacturing companies who have connected with Pierce. Kahwajian hopes to expand the grant for hiring events toward business majors. Goodwill is working to bring the companies to the students.

Difillippis was in charge of narrowing the options of companies for students to choose from. Difillippis manages the sector of manufacturing and works with machine shop companies. This is how she was able to invite the six companies who attended. Difillippis worked hand in hand with Michael Williams, grants director, to organize the hiring event.

“I ran into Michael Williams at a meeting and we talked about the need for engaging students in these types of activities, where they can connect with employers and workforce opportunities,” Difillippis said. “This is where, in the college, we would prepare the students for interviews and meetings with companies. This is where I would have the role of bringing employers to the college campus and creating the environment for an exchange.”

Difillippis stresses how this hiring event is not like a job fair, but an actual speed and screening interview with an employer giving the student’s a chance of hire.

“These students are looking for work, they’re not just experimenting. They’re looking to be hired and we are creating an environment for them. Hopefully, at the end of the day, they get hired or at least gain from the experience of having interview practice. That’s what makes this event different from a job fair,” Difillippis said.

She also mentions how the organization in this event was extremely important when it comes to time management. Moreover, Difillippis gives acknowledgement to Kahwajian’s work with organizing students interviews and collecting materials.

Gasper Lopez, mechanical engineering student, dreams of having a career in aviation mechanics or aerospace. Avibank, is a manufacturer company that specializes in the design and production of sophisticated fasteners and multi-component fastening systems and devices and was one of Lopez’s top choices.

“Based on their program and what she told me, they deal with assembly aerospace parts and that’s something that I’m really looking forward to,” Lopez said. “Since I don’t have a degree yet, I would have to place in their internship, but if I did have a degree I would go straight to what positions are open. Though with the classes I’m taking right now and my experience that I have, I would be placed as an assembler.”

In addition to Kahwajian’s email invitation, his engineering instructor, who provided a flyer in class, informed Lopez about this event. Lopez prepared for his interviews by looking up the history of the companies and YouTube videos on how to prepare for interviews.

“I looked up companies and what they’re about and, sure enough, Avibank did ask me about what I knew about their company and things like that,” Lopez said. “Of course, I also looked at videos on how to interview. Just for extra, I went to YouTube to see what type of jobs or what the manufacturing industry jobs do, just to get a little more familiar about the industry or if they were to ask me questions about it, I’d be prepared.”

Lopez believes his interview went well since this is his passion, which didn’t make it as difficult for him. Lopez felt nervous at first, since it was his first interview in years, but remains optimistic in the opportunities for a job position.

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