IRF promotes education and career development for road industry entrants
First publishedin World Highways
The Fellowship Orientation and Executive Leadership Program of the Washington Program Center is now the IRF Road Scholar Program. It encompasses the ten-day Fellows' Orientation Program, the Executive Leadership workshop, and the brand new IRF career fair. This year, 25 students from 19 countries participated, bringing the 59-year-old program total to 1,180.
The Fellows, from universities across the United States arrived unsure, for the most part, of what the next ten days would bring.
"I was very excited to be a part of this great Program," said Yuqing Zhang, attending Texas A&M. "My sponsoring professor was a fellow also and she told me of the many opportunities the Program would provide. I knew it was going to be a good experience."
During the ten-day Program, the fellows visited IRF members who can help to shape their careers, gained exposure to many of the public and private organisations that are active in the road industry, and heard first hand from top-level executives what it takes to become leaders who will make a difference in the road industry.
Mike Dreznes, vice president, Barrier Systems, taught the Executive Leadership workshop and impressed upon the Fellows the tools and traits one must have to be a successful leader. But Dreznes always says he learns more from the Fellows than they learn from him.
Throughout the course of the Road Scholar Program, the Fellows visited with The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AEM, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), Barrier Systems, HNTB, Hot Lanes Beltway Project, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Louis Berger Group, Parsons, Parsons Brinckerhoff, The World Bank, Turner Fairbanks Research Facility, US Federal Highway Department and Wilbur Smith Associates.
"Visiting IRF members was definitely a highlight of the week," said Julio Roa, a Fellow from Virginia Tech. "Being able to visit with such high-level executives and learn directly from them is an unforgettable opportunity. I am very grateful to IRF for letting me be a part of this unique Program."
More than 100 students from nearly 30 universities attended IRF's first ever career fair held on 14 January during the IRF Road Scholar Program. The fair was set up to provide IRF members access to top quality students seeking a career in a road-related field. For students, the career fair was an opportunity to meet recruiters, human resource representatives, CEOs, vice presidents and other executives to discuss career opportunities.
"This was a very valuable opportunity to network with top level people," said Oscar Gonzalez, a graduate student at Virginia Tech. "Being able to meet face-to-face will definitely be an advantage for me when going in for follow-up interviews."
IRF members who participated were given table space and a book of resumes from all the students who signed up. Companies who participated also received free signage and offices were set aside for on-site interviews.
"For the first of its kind job fair, I feel that the IRF did a remarkable job," said Howie Appel, Corporate Recruiter, HNTB. "The set up, student interviews, and close down went very smoothly and the book of resumes they presented us made our process much easier. We had a most productive day."
Only students who were given an endorsement by their professors were allowed to register for this event, providing members with a group of high calibre students.
And with a steady stream of qualified students visiting the booths, company representatives were kept busy. "It was a pleasure to participate in a well put together event," said Kevin Green, Project Director of AgileAssets. "We were overwhelmed with the calibre of talent attending and look forward to continuing conversations with the individuals."