More than 100 students seeking transportation-related career opportunities converged on the east bank campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on February 28 for the 2012 Transportation Career Expo. The majors of attendees ranged from planning, supply chain management, and logistics to marketing and engineering.
The event featured a panel discussion with transportation industry experts providing career-planning advice. The panel, moderated by CTS assistant director Gina Baas, included Dale Grove, associate with Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.; Chris Ryan, transportation planner and engineer with SRF Consulting Group; Rebecca Reiff, deployment team leader for General Mills; and Deb Bloom, city engineer and assistant public works director for the city of Roseville, Minnesota.
Speakers shared personal experiences in their transportation-related fields, stressing the importance of internships in college and offering tips for putting successful resumes together.
"I think internships are incredibly important," said Reiff, who interned with General Mills in college. She added that the skills and leadership qualities developed during internships are incredibly valuable. "It’s something that every single employer is going to be looking for," she said.
Grove suggested students differentiate themselves through longer internships, such as a six-month commitment instead of the usual summer-long internship. "If you want to stand out from the 50 resumes we get for a summer worker, that’s a good way to do it," he said. He went on to say that students who work hard and are willing to make a commitment to a company often are rewarded with full-time positions after their internships have concluded.
Other panelists stressed the importance of networking. Bloom said that she "couldn’t be successful without the group of people that have helped me get to this place," and that networking is critical to success. "Look to the left and to right of you! Those are the people you’ll be working with 10 years from now," she told students.
Panelists also said that companies are looking for people able to deliver their ideas effectively. Potential employees must have good communication skills. In fact, presence during an interview often is considered more important than a candidate's references.
Following the Q&A session, students were given a chance to explore exhibitor booths. Exhibitors offered networking and employment-seeking opportunities from public, private, and professional organizations.
The annual expo was sponsored by Education and Outreach Council of the Center for Transportation Studies, the Women's Transportation Seminar, the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, Minnesota LTAP, the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute, and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).