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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Reaching out for the future of IPF

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Dec. 4, 2018

IPF volunteers recently shared their Spartan skills with over 2,000 high school juniors, seniors and eighth-graders during a two-day career expo at DeWitt High School.

Pam Hebeler, painter I, brought her brushes so students could help paint the words “reach higher” with their own flare.

Paul Kuch, electrician II, constructed a board of electrical conduits and devices and wired them together to demonstrate the behind-the-box action of lights, plugs and switches.

“I brought hand tools so the kids could take devices apart and put them back together on the board, strip wires and make joints with wire nuts,” Kuch explained. “The kids were truly interested in being an electrician. You could see their excitement, and I realized many kids have no idea what skilled tradesmen actually do.” 

Lisa Desprez and Matt Bailey, both members of IPF’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, are working to change that.

After the 2017 IPF Employment Engagement Survey, two goals crucial to IPF’s future came to light: filling positions in skilled trades and bringing diversity across all units of the IPF workforce. Desprez and Bailey envisioned the goals as complimentary and came up with a creative way to address them: K-12 outreach.

“We want students to know that MSU is a big employer, not just somewhere you can go to school,” said Desprez, administrative assistant II and a member of the Workforce Engagement Subcommittee for IPF. “We employ over 1,000 people in skilled trades and other areas, and we hope they see us as a potential employer.”

Participating in the Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency’s (RESA) Career Expo at DeWitt High School was an opportunity to showcase IPF.

“The career expo was a great way for students to discover a skill they may not have known they had or never realized was applicable to a career,” said Johanna Faucett, administrative assistant for Building Services who helped recruit Maintenance Services volunteers and provided support during the career fair along with Maranda Holtsclaw in Building Performance Services.

Nick Martin and Reggie Bush, both mechanical metal workers, also volunteered for the two-day event.

“A young student told Nick and Reggie she was interested in becoming a metal worker when she grew up,” Faucett said. “That was memorable.”

Desprez and Bailey plan to follow up the career expo success by reaching out to area high school counselors, and by initiating IPF job shadowing opportunities, classroom presentations and IPF tours. They also want to help connect seniors to entry level positions.

For more information, or to find out how you can volunteer to bring the Spartan experience to high school students, contact Lisa Desprez at IPF Strategic Initiatives: desprez@msu.edu.