You know the old saying, “You don’t know what you’re missing until ….” Well, that phrase certainly applies when talking about PLANET’s Student Career Days (SCD). This is one of those things PLANET does extremely well, and that leaves other national associations amazed when they learn about it. This very special and unique event brings together students, professors, suppliers, and industry members. If you didn’t attend the 34th annual SCD held this year in Atlanta, you truly missed out on an unforgettable experience.
Picture this: more than 800 students from 68 schools (including two international schools) already charged up about a green industry career. Their energy level and enthusiasm gained momentum as they were wowed by the competition, the workshops, the Career Fair, and the overall support given by landscape businesses and industry suppliers. For most of the students, this was their first “big picture” view of the green industry and the numerous opportunities laid out before them — a career within the green industry can provide incredible wealth, challenges, and continued learning.
This year’s SCD event broke three records, including number of schools, number of students, and number of scholarships given, although there were fewer industry participants than usual at the Career Fair. That was disappointing to students, but understandable considering the economic climate. Those who made the trip and spent the time to meet with students, though, reaped the benefits of having the long-term view; that is, this economy is temporary and there’s always room for hiring top talent. In fact, most successful business owners will tell you they’re constantly on the lookout for top performers in the industry, especially college interns and graduates because they offer foundation that a company can build and grow around.
Where does one find the top students, many of whom are in their final semester of school? At SCD, of course, and whether you go there to hire a full-time employee or sign up an intern, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. There are many other reasons to attend this event. This is the place to meet and start building relationships with the program directors and educators who have the students’ ear. They want to place their students in solid companies that will not only offer excellent career opportunities, but will also continue to broaden their education. Ensure them of this and your recruiting effort will surely get a boost.
Because educators and students talk with peers from around the country, having a presence and making a good impression at an event such as SCD will deliver exponential rewards. But this can’t happen if you don’t go, and I can say from my experience that if you go and hire a new recruit, the energy and enthusiasm he or she brings to your company will have a totally positive impact on everyone’s perspective and morale.
How many times during your lifetime will you have the opportunity to participate in something very special and make it better? Just by going to SCD, you’re showing your support for the industry and the students who will be tomorrow’s leaders. You may think your company is not big enough to recruit nationally, but these days people are willing to travel, and the reality is time away from the office is healthy and the travel costs are absolutely minimal compared to what you gain and what you give back to the students.
Seventy-three students at this year’s SCD also received $1,000–$2,500 scholarships from the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation. You may think that this amount of money won’t go far today, but the student’s expression of gratitude proves it is absolutely significant, just as your presence is critical for the ongoing success of something very special and unique — something that PLANET is “wildly successful” at delivering.
The SCD phenomenon is growing. When an organization such as PLANET achieves wild success with programs like SCD, the Green Industry Conference, Renewal & Remembrance, and Day of Service, it behooves members to participate not only for their own edification, but also for offering support to something that will have a long-term and positive effect on their industry. But don’t take my word for it. Seeing and experiencing is believing.