Article written by TSTC Staff, published in the 2019 second quarter edition of Greater Waco Business magazine.
TSTC goes beyond Job Fair to Job Offer
Texas State Technical College (TSTC) separates itself from the rest of higher education by making sure its students are more than just job-ready. The college works to make sure graduates have a job by the time they get a degree, and leadership puts a lot of resources into making that happen. “It’s part of our funding formula. We don’t get paid until our students get paid at their jobs. It’s an incentive for us to do our best to get our students hired,” explained Provost Adam Hutchison. To ensure a successful job placement rate, the college’s Industry Relations and Talent Management office implements numerous strategies.
Among these strategies is the Employer Spotlights, where a company representative visits a designated campus to talk to students about job opportunities and benefits. Industry partners that have visited the Waco campus in recent months include SpaceX, Evans Enterprises Inc., Waco Transit System, Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries and Big Creek Construction.
Big Creek Construction is a heavy-highway contractor working on Texas Department of Transportation road and bridge projects. Wade Miller, Big Creek’s assistant director, has hired TSTC graduates, including recent hire Mariano Perez, 19. “We are excited to have Mariano coming aboard,” Miller said. “He’s a very impressive young man, and we expect him to do well at our company.”
Miller said TxDOT’s increase in spending on projects due to state propositions being passed by voters means more road and bridge improvements will be made in the next decade. “This equates to roughly 70,000 employees needed to build this work,” Miller said. “The workforce across our industry and state is aging. We are running out of people to do this work. For this reason, programs by TSTC make sense to contractors like us.”
Perhaps one of the most engaging strategies TSTC offers its students is the interview practicum, an event hosted at campuses across the state consisting of mock job interviews. Director of TSTC’s Industry Relations and Talent Management office Viviana Espinoza said that students prepare by attending workshops on writing résumés, writing cover letters and researching companies. “Our goal is to help every student who participates gain the confidence needed to have a successful interview,” said Espinoza. Volunteers are recruited from the local business community and TSTC to coach and lead mock interviews for participating students, many of whom will soon be graduating.
Fastenal General Manager Gilbert Garcia, who hires TSTC graduates, recently participated as a volunteer interview coach. “For me, helping students succeed is a team effort and I’m looking forward to being a part of this process,” said Garcia. “TSTC has helped us a lot by sending us great graduates who are eager to learn and have a great work ethic. This is my way of giving back.”
The students participate in three rounds of interviews, each 30 minutes long, and are provided with constructive feedback from their coaches on how to improve their résumés and interview skills. “For some of our students, this will be their very first interview,” said Espinoza. “It’s important they practice talking about themselves and their skills because that is one of the hardest things to do.”
TSTC also works to prepare students for jobs through internships. During the Spring 2019 semester, four TSTC students worked as interns at St. Paul’s Episcopal School on Columbus Avenue to guarantee that its teachers and students have the fastest and most secure software and hardware. “They are our Information Technology department,” said Head of School M’Lissa Howen. “They keep us going so the kids can learn.”
Technology is a vital part of education today. But if the system goes down, it can bring a halt to education. “They do everything from installing the new server to moving the computer lab for us and helping us troubleshoot daily problems,” said Deborah Bennett, assistant head of St. Paul’s Episcopal School. “The other day they even caught a security breach and fixed that quickly,”
TSTC and St. Paul’s have worked together for the past five years. The internship is unpaid but provides students an opportunity to earn real-world experience. “It’s amazing for these students to have practical, real-world training before they graduate. They can learn these skills in labs, but out there, you’ve got the teachers and students relying on you to do your job. It gives them a new sense of priority and urgency,” said John Washington, an associate professor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. The interns work a minimum of 15 hours a week and serve as representatives for the IT department during school board meetings.
At a recent TSTC Industry Job Fair, almost 900 TSTC students met potential employers from throughout the nation and Texas. Held at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center, students had the opportunity to interview with more than 100 companies looking to fill jobs for diesel equipment mechanics, industrial maintenance workers, instrumentation employees, electricians, plumbers and welders.
Boeing was among the industry leaders at the event, with representatives seeking aviation mechanics, industrial maintenance workers and electrical employees. “We really like how we are getting students that are matched to what we are looking for,” said Chris Rustik, a Boeing equipment maintenance manager. “The students are eager to find out information, so we appreciate that.”
Some TSTC alumni are often among the job recruiters. Joseph Jacobs, a support services manager for the Waco Independent School District, graduated in 2000 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration. He said the school district, one of Waco’s largest employers, looks for more than just teachers. Jacobs said computer networking is one of the fields that workers are sought for.
Cesar Vazquez, 19, of Red Oak is studying in the Diesel Equipment Technology program. He talked to a few companies and felt good about his job prospects. “I’m here to get a job in the diesel industry because I like working on diesels and have since I was a little boy,” Vazquez said. “My first truck was a diesel, and I just like working on them.”
For more information on TSTC and its program offerings, visit TSTC.edu.