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Ozarks Technical Community College students visit with Paul Mueller Co. representatives at an Oct. 4 speed dating-style jobs event.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
Ozarks Technical Community College students visit with Paul Mueller Co. representatives at an Oct. 4 speed dating-style jobs event.

Manufacturing ‘speed-dating’ event connects companies, students

Posted online

Eschewing the old-fashioned career fair, Ozarks Technical Community College relied on the speed-dating concept to connect manufacturing companies and students.

A “speed dating-style” event was held Oct. 4 on the OTC campus with more than 20 Springfield-area companies and nearly 170 students in attendance. Company representatives set up at tables inside Lincoln Hall to visit with students, ages 16-60, in morning and afternoon sessions.

“They get to really visit close to one-on-one,” said Danelle Maxwell, manufacturing department chair and agriculture instructor at OTC.

Groups of two to seven students traveled around to the different company tables in 15-minute increments, as a timer on a giant screen counted down each session.

The students learned about the companies, as well as potential job opportunities. Thursday’s event marked the second time OTC utilized a speed-dating format as an alternative to job fairs.

“Our goal was to get as much exposure to our students with the manufacturing world as possible,” Maxwell said. “We wanted more than just a career fair, as students tend to walk past all the booths.”

Yesterday’s event brought in 23 companies, ahead of the 19 businesses that were in attendance last year, according to OTC officials. Paul Mueller Co., Cintas, Nestle Purina PetCare Co., Olsson Associates Inc. and Stainless Fabrication Inc. were among participants this year.

Jeff Brunson, director of engineering with SFI, a stainless steel manufacturer, said his company attended last year’s event as well, and is always on the lookout for new employees.


“We saw the need for getting more creative about finding employees and having to start getting in front of them at a younger age,” he said.


Brunson and Maxwell said there’s a need for companies such as SFI to connect with potential employees who don’t even know they exist.


“They don’t realize how many opportunities there are in manufacturing in Springfield,” Maxwell said.

She estimated between five and 10 students were hired after last year’s event.

OTC’s event took place this week in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day, held annually on the first Friday in October. College officials say they hold the event a day early to allow greater participation from companies, as many host facility tours with students and community members on National Manufacturing Day.

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