Industry’s Future Competes in Illinois

More than 1,000 faculty members and students from colleges and universities around the country gathered March 17-20 at Joliet Junior College to participate in PLANET’s 35th annual Student Career Days.

More than 1,000 faculty members and students from colleges and universities around the country gathered this past week in Illinois to participate in PLANET’s 35th annual Student Career Days. Held at Joliet Junior College March 17 to 20, the event brought together some of the best and the brightest students to compete in 28 events, attend workshops and career development seminars, and explore career possibilities in the Green Industry’s largest career fair.

Addressing students at the opening day ceremony on March 18, keynote speaker Judy Guido reminded attendees how important it is to be caretakers of their personal brand and to effectively market themselves not just as the career fair, but in every minute of every day of their lives. The longtime industry member and founder and owner of Guido & Associates encouraged students to create a unique personal brand that allows them to compete effectively in an increasingly competitive environment where everyone is bombarded by more than 51,000 marketing messages daily.

“Life is not about finding yourself,” said Guido. It’s about creating yourself. It’s about developing a personal brand that defines who you are and what you do and about keeping promises to your community of stakeholders. “Everything you do has an impact on your personal brand,” she emphasized, something that students could take to heart as they later talked with prospective employers and began preparing for the following day’s competition.

Working Together

PLANET’s Student Career Days is a microcosm of the industry bringing together faculty and students, suppliers and company owners. As PLANET president David Snodgrass, CLP, points out, in the 28 competitive events alone, one sees the big picture of the breadth of services the industry provides. He thanked Joliet Junior College for hosting the event, the many volunteers, and the SCD sponsors for their involvement.

“Our major sponsors go far beyond giving economic support,” says Snodgrass. “They are truly involved in several ways and are truly committed to the industry’s future.” One such sponsor is Stihl, which for more than 10 years has been the event’s Platinum sponsor.

“You look around and you see these young people and their energy and you see their fresh outlook they have on the industry and see their optimism and you realize that this really is the future of the Green Industry,” relates Stihl’s promotional communication manager Roger Phelps. “They’re learning things whether it’s technology and processes that can really be applied and they’re growing up in an age where sustainability is not something new. For them, it’s not a buzzword; it’s reality. When they combine their passions for the environment and for the Green Industry, what we will have is a Green Industry that will be even more socially responsible and deeply involved in environmental solutions. That is exciting for us and one of the main reasons we want to be involved in this event.”

Both Phelps and Snodgrass emphasized how important it is for all industry segments to partner up to meet ongoing challenges, and noted that Student Career Days is one place where this partnership is very much alive and well.