February 14, 2014

Outfitted in business attire, College of Engineering students fluttered from table to table in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center listening to industry representatives’ pitch about their engineering, science and technology businesses at the LSU Career Expo on Feb. 11.

“We’re here to insure the folks know who we are and how we can be a mutual benefit,” said Dave Reid, Cameron plant human relations specialist.

Reid, who is recruiting both interns and full-time employees, said he was particularly looking for students who offered more than just good grades.

“When we look at people, we look at the whole person, not just the GPA,” he said.

Many employers were searching for students with good communication and teamwork skills.

“What I’ve noticed is [LSU engineers] are hard working. They’re pretty good communicators, open and flexible. They have a good work ethic,” said Reid.

Students were also aware of the importance of a great conversation.

“It’s all about first impressions. It’s good practice with interviews,” said Nathan Hitchcock, chemical engineering sophomore.

Toni Borel, biological and agricultural engineering graduate student, said she was excited to network and make connections.

“You get to meet people face-to-face. It’s better than an online application,” she said.

Borel also attended LSU College of Engineering’s networking reception at Lod Cook Alumni Center the night before the Career Expo. Borel said she hoped the contacts she made Feb. 10 would give her an advantage over other applicants.

“I met people last night that I can talk to today and give them my resume,” she said.

More informal than the Career Expo, the networking reception provided students one-on-one connections with employers before entering the arena of companies.

“We get to see the companies on a more personal level and get that connection before the Career Expo,” said Giovoni King, electrical engineering senior.

King, a member of the LSU Student Government Engineering College Council, was guiding corporate sponsors to their tables and encouraging students to speak to employers with confidence.

“They’re looking for well-rounded students who can engage in conversation,” said King.

Bryan Dugas, John Deere staff engineer, stated that students possessing “soft skills” stood out to him among the rest. He encouraged students to be “self-motivated” and be experienced in verbalizing ideas to a team.

Kris Hickman, Crest Industries, LLC, director of recruitment and public relations, said the College spends more time developing those soft skills than other schools.

“We can always teach how to do a job if they have the basic skills. They have to have that personality and will to want to learn,” said Hickman.

Dugas said John Deere prefers to recruit at LSU because native Louisianans understand the culture at the Thibodaux site. He explained that many students from LSU are familiar with farming and contribute positively to the Southern culture that exists at John Deere.

Having employees who have experienced Louisiana culture builds better teams, said Al Bailie, BASF employee relations manager.

“They understand the culture here. It’s important that people [at BASF’s Geismar site] are from here. That goes to building strong teams,” said Bailie. “At the end of the day, it’s about partnership.”

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For more on the LSU Career Expo, visit http://careercenter.lsu.edu/career-expo.

Article and photos by Danielle Kelley, LSU College of Engineering communications intern. For more information, contact Mimi LaValle, College of Engineering, mlavall@lsu.edu or (225) 578-5706. 



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