‘Industry Comes to Wallace State’ gives students chance to network with area employers

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Technical services manager Ed Lynn, left, and senior project manager Austin Booth of Comfort Systems USA Mid-South speak with WSCC students. (WSCC)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Students from Wallace State Community College recently got the chance to network with area employers and learn about various internship, apprenticeship and full-time job opportunities. 

Industry Comes to Wallace State is an event hosted monthly by the college’s Center for Career and Workforce Development (CCWD.) The event series allows businesses in North Central Alabama to connect with WSCC students in programs that may be relevant to the roles they are hiring for. Recruiters from the United States Army National Guard, Oak Dental Partners, Blount County Communication District and Comfort Systems USA Mid-South were on hand to meet with students.  

Anna Beard is the Diesel by Distance project coordinator at Wallace State. She assists with coordinating the monthly Industry Comes to Wallace career fair. 

“It is like a mini career fair with employers from around the area. With whatever positions businesses are looking to fill, we will invite students from those programs to attend the event and network with potential employers,” said Beard.   

Tables were set up in the Bailey Center Lobby for recruiters to display company materials and provide information to students. Recruiters got the chance to chat with students one-on-one and answer employment questions before sharing a presentation in the Bailey Center Auditorium. 

Comfort Systems USA Mid-South, a commercial HVAC company, was the first to share a presentation. On top of traditional HVAC work, their company also provides a wide array of construction services including air duct and temperature control installation, refrigeration and hydraulic pipe maintenance as well as general plumbing. During their presentation, they shared that they helped complete the newly erected Tutwiler Dorm at the University of Alabama. 

Ed Lynn has worked as a technical services manager at Comfort Systems USA for over 24 years. He shared that many of his colleagues are graduates of Wallace State’s HVAC program.   

Comfort Systems USA recruiter Aaron Mickel said that career fair events like Industry Comes to Wallace State are not just important for his company, but for the trade industry as a whole.   

“For every five people retiring from the trades, one person is filling vacancies,” said Mickel. “We need you all. Each person joining the trades now is going to be an important part of the future of the industry.” 

Austin Booth, senior project manager at Comfort Systems USA, agreed with Mickel, adding that prospective trades workers can expect growth in their field. 

“Being in the trades is hard work, but it is worth it. At the end of the day, you may come home sweaty and exhausted, but the potential in the trades is incredible. There are lots of companies that are paying great money for people who are interested in making a career out of the trades.” said Booth. “We do a lot of work here at Comfort Systems USA and we are always looking for driven individuals to join our team.”  

Staff Sgt. Bradley Willingham of the Army National Guard speaks with students in the Bailey Center lobby.

Staff Sgt. Bradley Willingham was present to provide students with information about the GI Bill and recruit candidates to enlist with the Army National Guard.  

“One of the main things that students are interested in when considering joining the military is education expenses covered under the GI Bill,” said Willingham. “We always try to have a big presence in colleges and universities, and Wallace State has always been one of the schools we get a lot of recruitment interest out of, so it is great to be up here and getting a chance to meet students.” 

April Handy is the regional manager of Alabama at Oak Dental Partners, an organization based out of Alpharetta, Ga. that provides affiliated dental offices with business and administrative support.  

“We have a whole spectrum of opportunities here. We are looking to hire everyone from front desk receptionists to dental hygienists. We have seven locations across Alabama, with three of those being in the Greater Birmingham area, and we would like to recruit for all of them,” said Handy. 

Klara Bezhani is the talent acquisition manager at Oak Dental Partners. She said that she was interested in meeting with all students, not just those studying in dental programs.  

“The sky truly is the limit, especially when you are working with a big organization. One day you could be a front desk worker, the next you could be an office administrator. We even encourage employees to pursue further education to become a dental assistant or dental hygienist.” said Bezhani. “Mrs. April was a hygienist and now she is a regional manager. Not only does she know the clinical part, but she also knows the administrative part. If you are hungry to learn, there is so much opportunity in the field.” 

The next Industry Comes to Wallace State is scheduled for December 6 in the Bailey Center Lobby and Auditorium.

For more information about Wallace State’s Center for Career and Workforce Development’s Industry Comes to Wallace State or internship and apprenticeship opportunities for students, contact Bethany Campell at bethany.campbell@wallacestate.edu or 256-352-8372.