March 07, 2018 2:30PM
It's Automotive Orientation Day at the Kansas Technology Center, which is, in Norman's words, "a very big deal."
"It's the biggest, most important day in our department for our 250 students," he said.
Norman, an associate professor in Automotive Technology at Pittsburg State, is anticipating nearly 40 companies — many of them the nation's top automotive companies, including GM, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, and Caterpillar — coming in from coast to coast to recruit upperclassmen for full-time jobs and internships, and to share with first- and second-year students more about their chosen career path.
Norman was once one of those students.
"This event has been going on since I was a student here in the late 1980s," he said, "and it's how I landed a job with GM."
Norman was hired by Chevrolet Motor Division before he even graduated from Pittsburg State. He went on to work for Chrysler for 14 years, then decided to return to his alma mater.
"I wanted to give back to what the university gave me. To bring my knowledge back to help those who will be the future leaders in the industry," Norman said. "Tomorrow is all about getting my students' feet in the door."
Students with whom Norman graduated in 1990 are now in upper management, he said, including as presidents and vice presidents.
"We have a wonderful placement rate, and there are so many opportunities out there in the transportation industry – thousands and thousands of jobs – to where our students could literally become the next president of a major company," he said. "Salaries can be in the mid 70s if they land a job with a big company."
He anticipates companies on Thursday from as far away as Detroit, California, and Texas.
"We have a very good reputation," he said. "They're also going to Notre Dame, Purdue, very large schools. But also, Pittsburg, Kansas."
Norman has another reason for being excited, though.
"What's also exciting for me as a professor is seeing my past students who have graduated, who have gone out to industry, and now they're coming back representing their company and recruiting my current students to work for them – it's coming full circle," he said.
Thursday's morning session consists of industry representatives participating in panel discussions that allow students to ask questions and receive answers regarding their chosen career path, what to expect from employment, and what they should be doing prior to graduation to prepare.
The afternoon session consists of networking at industry booths, where students can visit one-on-one with industry representatives, share their resumés, gain further insight into what positions the companies offer, and more.
Learn more about Pittsburg State's Automotive Technology program at http://www.pittstate.edu/department/auto/about-the-department/