Chesapeake Area Students Pull Up a Chair for Interviews at CWEA/CAWWA Career Fair

May 16, 2017

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In February, students sat down for interviews with prospective employers during the Chesapeake Water Environment Association/Chesapeake American Water Works Association Student Career Fair. Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria) photo/ Caroline Pakenham.

In February, students sat down for interviews with prospective employers during the Chesapeake Water Environment Association/Chesapeake American Water Works Association Student Career Fair. Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria) photo/ Caroline Pakenham.

Starting a career can be difficult. Often applicants need to send their resume to dozens of companies before getting the opportunity to sit down for an interview. But Chesapeake Bay-area college students interested in entering the water sector did not have to wait that long.

On Feb. 10, students had a unique opportunity to sit down for one-on-one interviews with prospective employers during the Chesapeake Water Environment Association (CWEA)/Chesapeake American Water Works Association (CAWWA) Student Career Fair. During the event, held at The Engineers Club in Baltimore, nearly 100 students signed up for 15-minute interviews with companies of their choice.

Nearly 100 students interested in water sector careers attended the career fair. WEF photo/Pakenham.

Nearly 100 students interested in water sector careers attended the career fair. WEF photo/Pakenham.

“As a young professional, it is my responsibility to give back not only to our community but to the future of our industry by providing guidance and support both technically and professionally for those entering the professional working world,” said Pono Hanson, vice chair of CWEA’s Student and Young Professionals Committee. Hanson, a member of WEF and CWEA since 2012, is a project manager at Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.).

Students had an opportunity to sign up for at least six different interviews from the list of 35 companies and organizations that participated. The interviews provided an opportunity to practice communication skills and learn about available positions related to drinking water and wastewater treatment. The event also featured a panel of speakers who discussed the hiring and interview process as well as a networking hour.

Participants were able to sign up for at least six different, 15-minute interviews as well as hear from a panel of speakers discussing the hiring process and participate in a networking event. WEF photo/Pakenham.

Participants were able to sign up for at least six different, 15-minute interviews, hear from a panel of speakers discussing the hiring process, and participate in a networking event. WEF photo/Pakenham.

The career fair has been well-received on both the interviewer and interviewee side of the table. “Many companies and professionals who represent their companies at this event are heavily involved in our [Member Association] and equally passionate about this event and the industry,” Hanson said. A post-event survey distributed to students in previous years shows about a 25% hiring rate directly resulting from this career fair, and many others have confirmed that the event resulted in a follow-up interview, he said.

Learn more about the event and read Hanson’s tips for job applicants in the WEFCOM post, “CWEA Connects Future Water Professionals with Careers in the Water & Wastewater Industry.”

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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