June 2, 2023 - Blog Post

Bringing Students and Working Professionals Together: Seneca College Industry Dinner and Career Fair

Author: Nicole Ruehle, Past President of Fire Protection Student Association (FPSA)

Figure 1: Seneca Polytechnic Fire Protection Career Fair.

On the morning of March 16th, 2023, fire protection students at Seneca Polytechnic joined with industry professionals to learn about the many opportunities within the fire protection industry. During the Seneca Polytechnic Annual Career Fair, a collection of representatives from over 30 companies travelled from all reaches of Canada and the United States, to meet current and graduating students.

Students had the chance to network, gain valuable insights from experienced professionals, and inquire about possible internships and job opportunities. The fair displayed companies from all areas of the industry, ranging from well-established giants to innovative start-ups. Representatives had enthusiastically shared their expertise with students, creating connections that assist in guiding students along their career path. 

As the career fair concluded, students, Alumni, and working professionals came together to bond over a common goal; to ensure life safety from the dangerous effects of fire events. The night was filled with good food and important conversation as the attendees gathered over dinner to listen to a moving presentation from Shawn Simmons and Alvaro Llanos; two critically burned survivors, who fought hard to stay alive.

Professionals from all areas of fire protection made an appearance at both, the career fair and industry dinner. The addition of working professionals in various strains of fire protection, ensures students are aware of all opportunities that are open to them, and allows the different companies to meet their future employees first-hand. Events like these are imperative to the futures of students, companies, and the fire protection industry.

Figure 2: Seneca Polytechnic Fire Protection Industry Dinner

As a student, a room full of possible employers can be intimidating. This is why the FPSA organizes events like the industry dinner to show that students and professionals have something in common; to ensure life safety from fire emergencies. The guest speakers, Shawn Simmons and Alvaro Llano, reminded the audience of their common goal, with their moving experience of escaping their college dormitory during the outbreak of an incendiary fire with no protection. The speakers showed their documentary “After the Fire” which shows the timeline of a hard recovery for the two men, including media footage of the fire event and court hearings with the college students who started the fire. Emotions were evoked from the audience as they were faced with what they strive to prevent; innocent people injured due to an event that could have been contained and/or prevented. 

Figure 3: Guest Speakers, Shawn Simmons and Alvaro Llanos

The event also included speeches from Seneca Polytechnic President, David Agnew, who highlighted the importance of such events in shaping the future of aspiring fire protection professionals. Professor and faculty advisor, Scott Pugsley, provided a summary  of the past year as he spoke out about the appreciation for returning to in-person education and mentioned the past in-person events hosted by the FPSA. FPSA President Nicole Ruehle also addressed the audience, expressing her enthusiasm for the event and encouraging students to make the most of the networking opportunities while she reflected back on her own journey within the program. Varying FPSA executives also provided a few words to recognize outstanding students within the FPSA and the Fire Protection program. Two student awards were presented to two students within the fire protection programs, acknowledging academic excellence, leadership, and involvement within their communities. In addition, graduating FPSA members were honored with challenge coins, symbolizing their achievements and commitment to the FPSA and Seneca Fire Protection overall.

Figure 4: Fire Protection Student Association (FPSA) Executives
Moshu Lang, Elvis Ho, Fernando Simon, Nicole Ruehle, John Fallas,
Paolo Belfiglio, Megan Wallwork, Scott Pugsley

The FPSA Executives host these yearly events with guidance from their faculty advisor, Scott Pugsley, and assistance from Seneca event staff and fire protection student volunteers. This year, the FPSA was able to spread awareness of fire safety and assist fellow students in meeting their future employers once again, during their annual career fair and industry dinner. The day was a success, as tickets sold out with over 300 attendees. Another successful event will be occurring next year, March 21st, 2024, that you don’t want to miss. 







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