Bradley students spend countless hours preparing for the annual fall Job and Internship Fair, which occurred on Thursday, but what are the 207 employers at the fair even looking for?
The answer is a combination of a lot of factors. Do employers think classroom performance is important? Yes. Do they care about past internship and part-time work experience? Sure. Do they also want prospective employees to have soft skill? Of course.
“[Employers] are looking for competencies like career competencies which is inclusive of soft skills,” said Jon Neidy, executive director of the Smith Career Center. “We know that our students are developing the strong technical skills that they might need in their workspaces. What sometimes are lacking the part of those work competencies that are considered the soft skills.”
Paige Jordan, a project manager at Executive Construction and a 2017 Bradley graduate, said Bradley does a good job providing students with the necessary skills.
“I feel like our school does put out some high caliber students,” Jordan said. “Since we are a construction company, we know our engineering program is phenomenal and student have real-world experience.”
However, there is more to it than just having technical skills. Mark Sargis, a senior mechanical engineering major, who has gotten an internship and a co-op from past Bradley fairs, said employers want a well-rounded student.
“They are looking for someone that can do more than just an engineering job,” Sargis said. “They want someone that fits into the work environment and is personable.”
Lindsay Hermer, a human resources manager with Executive Construction, echoes Sargis’s statement.
“[We look for] a cultural fit,” Hermer said. “Our culture is work hard, play hard, so that is what we are looking for.”
One of the most important areas many students need to improve on is communication, according to Neidy.
“There is something to be said for learning how to communicate professionally versus learning how to communicate casually,” Neidy said. “Sometimes recent graduates and current students aren’t able to differentiate between the two. So, there is a giant need for the soft skills.”
Neidy said many blame the greater need for soft skills for millennials and Generation Z members comes from the increase from technology, but he believes it is a different cultural change.
“They may not have had the opportunities to learn those soft skills as a result of how parenting has changed culturally and work expectations have changed,” Neidy said.