Green industry employers want enthusiastic, passionate workers

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URI career event leads to jobs

KINGSTON, R.I. – February, 28, 2012 – Graduating seniors must possess passion, enthusiasm, and optimism if they hope to land good jobs.

That was the prevalent message at the University of Rhode Island’s Green Industry Career Day held last week at the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. Fifty employers chatted with more than 150 students about the keys to a successful job hunt during the entire program.

“You get hired because of skills and GPA’s, but fired because of attitude, so we are generally looking for students who have an enthusiastic persona and joy for what they will be doing,” said Jim Pagliarini, vice president and director of nursery operations at Central Nurseries and a URI graduate who majored in ornamental horticulture and turfgrass management. “Years ago, I hired for experience, now I hire for the upbeat enthusiastic individual. I can teach employees the skills, but nowadays you can’t teach energy, attitude, enthusiasm, and qualities necessary in marketing. Marketing is becoming a key aspect in the industry.”

Many employers emphasized that continuous learning and an ability to connect with people are essential.

“You need to have one foot in the new world with the need for better communication skills, and one foot in the old culture where the skills were all that mattered,” said Gail Read, garden manager at Blithewold Mansion, Garden, and Aboretum. “The more students get out there and talk, the better for them in return.”

“This has been great, the employers are very interested in us and they are easy to talk to,” said Giles MacDonald, a senior at URI in environmental horticulture and turfgrass management. “With the economic crisis we are in, Green Industry Day showed us that there are opportunities for us out there and that this industry needs good people.”

“The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management offers multiple opportunities in multiple branches for students,” said Gabby D’Amico, a senior majoring in environmental horticulture and turfgrass management.

Jason VanBuskirk, golf course superintendent at Stow Acres Golf Course and a 2006 URI graduate, was a part of the subcommittee that created Green Industry Day. “Giving back and putting students in a position I wish I could have been in when I was in college is the most important aspect of the event. Alumni, like me, are offering connections to students in the URI community.”

Kate Chroust, career advisor of URI Career Services and co-coordinator of the event, was ecstatic with the turnout. “Students were very engaged, excited and generally well prepared. They are educating themselves to be in this environment and are taking advantage of the opportunities ahead of them.”

“Career Services was huge in making this happen,” said MacDonald. “They came to all the development meetings, had a resume blitz which was extremely helpful, and encouraged us to be who we are. My expectations of the event are fulfilled, or even better yet, exceeded.”

“Employers were all down to earth and welcoming,” said D’Amico. “Thanks to this event because it wasn’t just Career Services, it was a whole group of people that put this together! Employers, faculty, and staff all had a huge part in making this day happen. We will get hired from this event.”

The event was sponsored by College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

This news release was written by Franco Lo Presti, a public relations major and intern in the URI Department of Communications & Marketing.

URI Photos by Nora Lewis