Career Fair Offers Something for Every Cadet

Alexander Alvarado speaks to Holden Fellows '20 at the VMI career fair.

Alexander Alvarado '17, one of many alumni on hand for the career fair, speaks with Holden Fellows '20 about career opportunities with the Virginia Department of Transportation.—VMI Photo by H. Lockwood McLaughlin.

LEXINGTON, Va., March 6, 2019—This semester’s career and internship fair, held Monday in the Hall of Valor, hosted over 60 employers offering a broader array of opportunities than ever before—all with the intent of helping shape cadets’ future endeavors.

“We’re doing things a little differently this semester,” said Lt. Col. Ammad Sheikh, VMI’s director of career services.  While in the past, the fair centered largely on engineering firms and law enforcement agencies, this week’s event added new participants to that core group of employers.

The result was a room packed with a larger number and wider spectrum of employers catering to more cadets.

“We have employers upstairs and downstairs,” said Sheikh. “We have increased the number of employers to make sure every major is represented”

Many employers were represented by VMI alumni who chose varied career paths. Kyle Lynch ’06 served in the Marine Corps for over seven years before beginning work for AECOM, a multinational engineering firm. With a large number of cadets on commissioning tracks, there is valuable insight to be gained from hearing about the transition from service to workforce.

“We’re exposing them to different opportunities once they’ve [graduated],” he said. Lynch went on to highlight how important these events are for cadets planning shorter careers in the armed forces before returning to the civilian world. “I know there a lot of folks that are going to be interested in that.”

Another much younger alumnus, John Mobley ’18 who now works for Kjellstrom and Lee Construction, recalled his own participation in the career fair last year.

“365 days ago, I was on the other side of the table talking to the guy that I’m standing next to right now,” said Mobley. “It’s good to be back and not be wearing woolies.”

“It’s going well. There are lots of new vendors and I’m learning a lot about new places,” said John Chamberlain ’19, a mechanical engineering major who has already interned with one of the companies at the fair.

“I’m looking for an internship in the future,” said Nate Kholer ’22 who is interested in software design and development, adding that it was “good to get several options” at the fair.

Encouraged to attend by professors and career services staff, hundreds of cadets cycled through the Hall of Valor during the four-hour event.

“I actually enjoy being forced to go,” said Chamberlain. “It made me step out of my comfort zone and learn some new things.”

The career fair is just one resource career services offers in order to start cadets on their career paths early and support them throughout their cadetships.

 “I always tell cadets, don’t wait till you’re a senior to come to a career fair. Come in your sophomore year, let’s do an internship,” said Sheikh. “Our mission is to have every cadet walk away from VMI with a long-term career education plan, because it’s not about the first job after college.”

-H. Lockwood McLaughlin


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