GTRI Job Fair Attracts Hundreds of Students and 27 Corporations Looking for Talent

IMG_2250On Thursday, April 7, nearly 350 international students from eight colleges and universities in Michigan met with 27 local employers in the market for STEM talent. The event, held at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan was hosted by Global Detroit’s Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI) and represented the tremendous growth and interest in international talent as a means of filling the talent gap. The event included more employers than any other in GTRI’s history since it was launched in 2011.

IMG_2188International students lined up to talk to representatives from local, as well as global companies looking for STEM talent to fill their unmet employment needs. “We found a great selection of potential candidates – not only recent grads but candidates with highly sought after skills such as mobile app developers and vehicle infotainment experience. OpTech has been a supporter of GTRI because we believe in doing everything to find the best talent for our clients, and events such as this help us achieve this,” said Debbie Blair, Director of Recruiting at OpTech, a professional services firm serving the fields of IT, engineering, and health care, as well as providing technical solutions for commercial and government clients.

IMG_2203The students were extremely appreciative of the employers’ willingness to consider international students. “…very different from other job fairs,” said Denis Main, an aerospace major from Kenya, studying at Western Michigan University. Kristina Larsen, a Danish student pursuing a masters in mechanical engineering at Wayne State University noted, “Being an international student it’s sometimes hard getting internships because employers do not know about OPT and CPT. So coming [to the GTRI job fair], where all the employers have a feeling of how it works is really helpful, because you can use the terms OPT and CPT and not scare employers away. Employers have been very interested in international students – who do not need sponsorship for internships – The employers asked for my resume faster than I could get it out of my folder.”

IMG_2228“Fueled by the success of this week’s event, we have already started planning for the next job fair which promises to be even better,” exclaimed GTRI Director Gracie Xavier. “It is our goal to connect the brightest and best international students with those employers who are struggling to find worthy candidates for their unfilled positions.”

The next job fair is planned for October and will include some new aspects, which were not part of this past week’s event.

For employers –
We will add a table to specifically address any questions from employers concerning Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for a specified period of time on a student visa towards getting practical training to complement their education.

IMG_2145For students –
We will expand workshop offerings on the college campuses to include job interviewing skills, resume writing, and networking so the students will be well prepared for their initial meeting with the corporate representative.

We will also have an immigration attorney on hand to answer any questions that might arise either on the part of the employer or the student.

“We are inspired by the success of Thursday’s event, and we looking forward to making the next experience even more valuable for both the students and the employers. It must be a win-win for everyone,” shared Xavier.

IMG_2219The Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA) has supported GTRI since its inception five years ago. “(MONA) is proud to be a close partner with Global Detroit’s GTRI, and we were glad to attend the recent job fair. It was inspiring to see all of the international students and employers in attendance at the event. There were lines of students waiting to meet employers everywhere! We look forward to hearing about the connections that the employers and international students made from attending, and we greatly appreciate GTRI’s efforts with regard to international student retention,” shared Karen Phillippi, MONA Deputy Director.

Since GTRI’s launch in 2011, the number of talented international students hired from participating universities by Michigan companies increased by nearly 50 percent. In a typical semester more than 225 Michigan companies are hiring international student talent from GTRI’s seven university partners, helping to fill unmet STEM talent needs. We estimated that 75 percent of these companies are located in southeast Michigan.

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