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Archive for Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jobs still abound in industries such as engineering, technology

Stacy Walker, college relations recruiter with Garmin, left, talks with Kansas University engineering graduate student Maryam Mahani at the Feb. 11 Engineering and Computer Career Fair at the Kansas Union.

Stacy Walker, college relations recruiter with Garmin, left, talks with Kansas University engineering graduate student Maryam Mahani at the Feb. 11 Engineering and Computer Career Fair at the Kansas Union.

April 29, 2010

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While other industries are laying off employees because of the economy, Lawrence and Kansas City employers in the field of technology support and design are hiring.

More than 40 engineering and tech companies and agencies visited the Kansas University Kansas Union on Feb. 11 to fill several positions at the Engineering & Computer Science Career Fair.

Though the number of employers at the fair was slightly down from the previous year, several internships and full- and part-time jobs were available.

Linda Sims, U.S. Basestocks Sales Manager for Exxon Mobile — one of the companies at the fair — said her company has a need for engineers with strong technical skills and good character.

“I would guess there is far more need for engineers than you would see in the business school,” she said. “My sense is that there is still a need for engineers even with a difficult and reduced economy.”

Garmin, a navigation and communication technology company at the career fair, consistently has more than 50 openings at its headquarters in Olathe. These jobs range from Web content writers to Web developers and software engineers.

Stacy Walker, a college relations recruiter for Garmin, said Garmin is even planning to open a small location in Lawrence with six to 10 full-time and part-time employees, including KU interns.

“We thought, why not try to get a small location going in Lawrence where students from KU can come out and work a little part time while going to school, but then for summer they can work full time,” Walker said.

The job openings at Garmin are not exclusively for college students, though. Walker said they were hiring several workers who have been laid off at similar industry companies or have gone back to school to develop new technical skills. When a similar company cuts jobs or goes under, Walker said Garmin has hired several of those employees.

“We definitely take advantage of that technology knowledge that might not be working out for other teams or companies and utilizing that at Garmin,” she said. “That is knowledge that, across the board, we need to use.”

Eric Gruber, webmaster for the city of Lawrence website, said while almost every industry took a hit with the down economy, Web and tech jobs are still fairly stable.

“Aside from the medical field, if I was looking to prep for the future, I’d look toward something in the tech arena,” said Gruber, who also runs his own freelance Web development company in his spare time.

Gruber added that tech jobs should only grow in number as the economy recovers and technology improves. From Web design to network security development, Gruber said he sees a strong need for tech jobs now and in the future.

“There’s always some business or organization out there that needs a website or needs their site improved in some way,” he said. “If you’ve got some skills in graphic and web design coupled with a good grasp of a development language and a decent Web framework, that can take you a long way to filling huge needs.”

As much as the United States is connected through various online social networks that allow people to interact and surf the Web at high speeds, Gruber said many parts of the country are still limited to dial-up. In his mind, infrastructure development might also have a large potential for job growth.

“If you’re on a mobile device, it’s a crapshoot as to whether you’ll have a fast connection or not,” he said. “There’s nothing more painful than downloading a website on an Edge connection. Once we finally have nationwide broadband access, you’re really going to see some amazing things unfold.”

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