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Employers, students seek common ground on recruiting efforts
by Jessica Garcia
Aug 14, 2008 | 954 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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<a href=>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - As an intern, Chris Reede, 24, helped install a new steam turbine at Ormat's geothermal power plant in south Reno. The UNR mechanical engineering graduate is now a full-time project engineer for Ormat.
Lisa Petersen, a local corporate recruiter, understands the value of seeking young, qualified applicants in the job market. So she reaches out to what is becoming a more necessary feeding ground and a strategic move for recruitment: the University of Nevada, Reno, Truckee Meadows Community Colleges and Western Nevada College.

“My goal today was just to get additional information on what I haven’t realized or haven’t learned from other student events I’ve participated in,” said Petersen, who works for Employers, a Reno-based insurance company with a specialty in workers’ compensation. “What’s great today is there are some other strategic planning (tactics) being developed by UNR by networking with students, which has been a huge success for both (the businesses and the students).”

On Wednesday the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) held a collegiate recruiting workshop at UNR to help employers tap into a pool of local, young talent. The effort is part of EDAWN’s campaign to build up a solid workforce in the region to help expand northern Nevada’s business economy. Gail Conkey, EDAWN’s director of marketing, said it’s important to utilize these collegiate resources to provide different options for networking and the university’s curriculum development.

According to a 2008 study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers and presented at the workshop, college graduates are most concerned with job security when seeking employment. The study showed showed they are also concerned with opportunities for advancement, good insurance packages and working in a friendly environment.

A company’s reputation in the eyes of the young applicant is also significant, said Lorna Shepard, the owner of Truckee-based Red Dog Consulting, an account planning, research and communications firm. Shepard discussed some trends of employer-related research. She said the results led her to ask how are these “Generation Y” graduates different from their predecessors.

“How are they different from, say, the 1982 grads, or some of their parents?” she said. “They’re slightly more concerned with your involvement in the community, but not as much as I think the media has led us to believe are.

“They are much more involved with the ethical behavior of the companies and more concerned with financial security and job security,” Shepard said. “So they look different from us. They’ve seen some rocky times, their parents have seen some rocky times.”

She said college students’ parents have a major influence over their job selection, emphasizing security over money.

Business professionals also heard ideas about greeting new faculty members in the fall to help gear academic programs towards developing curriculum aimed at giving students a chance to build the skills needed for the region’s employment offerings.

Likewise, students also had advice to share from their perspective.

“A lot of students don’t understand the importance of networking,” said Meghan Wagonseller, a UNR senior who also works as an assistant to the director of public relations at EDAWN. “They don’t really build their resumes; they’re just working to get money and working to get themselves through college. They’ re not working to gain professional connections. I think that’s a huge issue and huge obstacle for students.”

Wagonseller, who also has been hired to work as the director of campus relations for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada and is president of the Public Relations Student Society of America, said it took her some time to learn about the resources but has recently built up the confidence to do it.

“I know a lot of my peers don’t feel comfortable going up to someone and introducing themselves,” she said. “It’s a lack of knowledge of what you want to do. You’re doing a lot of things and not honing on one skill. … It’s just recently that I’ve been immersing myself in all this.”

Sarah Ragsdale, who finished her bachelor’s degree in May and is going on to graduate studies at Boston University’s medical campus, said her “field study” — the science major’s equivalent of an internship — on the mental health of young women who are incarcerated provided her with real job experience she’ll need later.

“Employers need to know about exposure,” Ragsdale said. “They need to expose their business to the community …. But I think a student needs to know they must be as aggressive as the employer.”

It’s the university’s mission to prepare students for the workforce after college, she said.

“The bachelor’s degree is becoming more and more of a necessity at the entry-level workforce, so students need to know just because they have a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean they’re competitive just yet,” Ragsdale said. “That’s why internships are so important to stand out.

“The university’s mission is to be the economic anchor for northern Nevada … and if we aren’t serving the needs of the community by education, and students can’t go out and reach the workforce, then both are not doing their jobs,” she said.

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