STC industry expo bring employers, students together
City of McAllen HVAC Foreman and STC HVAC-R alumnus Hector Garcia speaks with STC students about internship and career possibilities with the city during STC’s Building Trades and Industry Expo.
Juan Aviles, a South Texas College Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC-R) student, expects to graduate this December, and the college’s recent Building Trades and Industry Expo, he said, came at the perfect time.
The 20-year-old was one of close to 200 students that gathered at the college’s Technology Campus recently, where more than 30 industry leaders in HVAC, construction and electrical gathered, ready to hire students and alumni like Aviles.
“This is a great opportunity for students, especially for those of us who are about to graduate,” said Aviles. “It’s really starting to hit me that I’m about to enter the real world and having this chance to network with employers is invaluable. It’s great to hear about all the possibilities that are out there for me.”
The McAllen native is already submitting applications to local HVAC companies, but after talking to Walmart, an STC industry partner at the event, he said he is now thinking bigger.
“To us, Walmart is a retailer, but there really is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making Walmart successful,” he said. “They are looking for HVAC technicians and that’s my area. To think I could work for someone like Walmart because of my education here at STC, well, it’s amazing. I feel encouraged and motivated.”
“We’re planning big things with STC’s trade programs for the future; we enjoy working with the college and its students. As for the expo, I have resumés in hand of qualified students, strong candidates…and those are produced right here at STC. That’s why I continue working with them.”
Jose Vela, STC program chair for Architectural and Engineering Design Technology and coordinator of the expo, said hearing the positive responses from students, alumni and industry partners made this event worthwhile.
“The goal of the event is to connect our students and alumni with employers, to get them hired,” said Vela. “Knowing that they’re (students) leaving resumés and finding opportunities that fit their skill and need, is what this is all about.”
Vela added that most of the industry leaders who participated in the expo are members of his department’s advisory board or are already hiring partners.
“We all need to support each other,” said Aviles. “Employers hire our students, and we also help employers make connections with them at events like this. Because of COVID, it’s been a while since we hosted a hiring expo, but we hope to make this an annual, if not a semesterly, event.”
For industry and hiring partners like Rhodes Enterprises, the largest and fastest growing mixed-use developer of master planned communities in the Rio Grande Valley, and that often hire STC construction graduates, this expo was deemed a success.
“STC never disappoints,” said Selina Partida, Rhodes Enterprises talent administrator, who has 17 positions to fill. “We have hired several construction graduates over the years who have the skills we need, are ready to work and be promoted within our company. So, seeing all the strong, potential candidates stop by our table at the expo, was no surprise. We have positions to fill and STC fills them.”
City of McAllen HVAC Foreman and STC HVAC-R alumnus Hector Garcia shares the same sentiment.
Garcia, since earning his certificate and associate degree from STC’s HVAC program in 2010 and 2020, respectively, said he takes on interns every semester and enrolls entire classes from STC’s HVAC, construction and electrical programs to gain real-world work experience within the city of McAllen.
“I was in their shoes not too long ago as a student and it can be a scary time,” said Garcia. “I want these students to enter the field confident in themselves and their skills, and that happens when they get experience. That’s my goal. I want to help STC, the way it helped me.”
STC students have trained with Garcia doing maintenance work at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center, the McAllen Convention Center and McAllen Performing Arts Center, including completing jobs at special events hosted by the city.
“We’re planning big things with STC’s trade programs for the future; we enjoy working with the college and its students,” he said. “As for the expo, I have resumés in hand of qualified students, strong candidates…and those are produced right here at STC. That’s why I continue working with them.”
To learn more about the technical and industrial trades programs at STC, visit www.southtexascollege.edu/cte/index.html.