By Ian Lehn, BOOSTane
April 23, 2022 marked a huge victory for ETTN's Student Competition committee. With more than two years of programming being stifled by the pandemic, a successful pivot was made at the beginning of 2021 to re-engage with SAE competition teams.
After a year of providing judges for SAE Baja's business prompt portion of the competition, SAE's Student Activities Committee agreed to allow ETTN's Student Engagement Committee to collaborate on writing the business prompt for the upcoming year. The prompt, now with a focus around student teams unveiling their businesses at the SEMA Show, presented a perfect opportunity to host an event with the collaboration of both organizations, SAE and SEMA. From that, the SAE/SEMA Career Fair was developed.
The goal was to offer student competition teams the opportunity to present and receive feedback on their vehicle builds and business prompts from industry professionals, both from in the aftermarket and not. When not presenting, students engaged with companies and professionals through the on-site career fair, where they had the chance to potentially receive job offers, internships, or other opportunities. In addition, students and attendees received a tour of the SEMA Garage to see exactly what resources are available to SEMA members.
The SAE/SEMA Career Fair was the largest SAE SoCal student event ever hosted in conjunction with the SEMA Garage, and garnered:
- 200-plus students from nine schools
- 50-plus industry professionals
- 20 Career Fair participants
- Reports of multiple job, internship, and interview offers
- One job offer onsite, five scheduled interviews
The buzz in the garage was undeniable. From students walking around and giving feedback to fellow competitor's vehicles, SEMA member companies listening and giving notes on teams pitching proposals to their SEMA centric prompt, to the conversations happening in the career fair, the entire garage was electric.
"The future of our industry is dependent on these young thinkers and innovators taking an active role in the aftermarket," said Ian Lehn, ETTN Student Competition Committee Task Force Chair. "It's our responsibility to make sure they have, and see, those opportunities."
The success of the event only proves the value these students have for the industry, and their desire to engage with the aftermarket. They are working on problems that the aftermarket is not even aware of and will be the ones who solve them.
A partnership is being proposed from SAE to continue these events, and to potentially partner in a similar manner with the Detroit & Mid-Michigan SAE sectors, and offer an annual event at both the new Detroit Garage, as well as Diamond bar.