Will Ferguson the "Right Product" for Hitchiner
Will Ferguson, a senior at Keene State College, learned firsthand the truism that you never know when an opportunity will arise to meet a potential employer. A five-minute impromptu presentation helped him land a job with Hitchiner, the leading provider to industry of innovative technology solutions for investment castings.
The connection with Hitchiner didn’t happen overnight. Members of the company’s engineering and research and development groups had been to campus in October to speak with both Sustainable Product Design and Innovation (SPDI) faculty and students and tour the SPDI facility. Will was part of an impromptu group of students, organized by Assistant Professor Dr. Lisa Hix, who presented shortened versions of their individual capstone design projects to the Hitchiner team.
Hix, chair of the Sustainable Product and Design Innovation program, notes that the relationship that Keene State is forging with Hitchiner is representative of the outreach program that she and Daniel Henderson, Corporate Relations Officer for the College, have been building with area businesses for some time. “It’s a great collaborative effort to build these connections,” she said. “It gives us a voice to show what we are doing and the value that our students bring to a company.” And as Henderson points out, “Businesses are overwhelmingly interested in finding a talented workforce that is committed to building their careers in New Hampshire.”
Henderson followed up in November, inviting Hitchiner representatives to give a presentation to SPDI and Management students and to participate in a job fair the following day. “The SPDI program at Keene State is very good,” said Scott Biederman, V.P. for technology at Hitchiner. “Having a high-quality institution this close is great for us and allows us to have a connection with people who are from the local area.” Will and his classmates made sure to be at the informative presentation, ready with follow up questions, and prepared to chat with the Hitchiner engineers after the presentation.
Sensing a potential job opportunity, Ferguson attended the November demonstration and job fair, seeking out the representatives from Hitchiner. Job and internship postings followed. He promptly applied for the position, and over the College’s winter break, got a call from Hitchiner requesting a phone interview. That interview went so well that 20 minutes after it was over, a Hitchiner official called back to set up an in-person interview.
Following the long six-hour interview at Hitchiner, Ferguson returned to Keene. A few days later, he got the call he’d been waiting for. “I was impressed with how quickly they moved with it. I hadn’t even started my last semester yet and I already had a job,” said Ferguson, who will enter Hitchiner’s engineer training program at its research and development center in Milford after graduating in May. “That was the biggest relief I’ve ever had – knowing that in a couple of months I’m going to have student loans to start paying and I’m going to have a nice starting position to go to. I was ecstatic about that.”
Hix points out that while Hitchiner offered a great opportunity for Ferguson, conversely, Ferguson possessed the skills that the company was seeking in an employee. She confirms the mutual benefit for companies and Keene State students when she says, “Our students have great qualities they can bring to company cultures.”
Ferguson offers the following advice to SPDI students looking to have both a diploma and a job when they graduate. “Just understand that you get out of it what you put into it,” he said. “The biggest thing is to really push yourself and try to stand out in the crowd as much as you can. You only get a chance to do this once, so make the most of it.”