By Erin McLaughlin
Toronto, Ontario -- August 30, 2017 – They’ve spent the last nine months receiving a grounding in the basics of autobody repair and it’s all led up to this: the 2017 Tropicana Career Fair. A total of 16 students made their way into the Tropicana Community Services centre in Toronto for the annual event, hoping that by the fair’s conclusion, they would have found a new career with one of the 10 employers present. Included among the employers were CARSTAR, various CSN Collision Centres facilities, Assured Automotive and Whitby Collision and Glass. At the end of the day, 13 Tropicana students were hired. The three remaining students are currently being set up with alternative placements.
“This has always been one of the biggest events of the year,” said Marc Tremblay, Pre-Apprenticeship Coordinator for Tropicana Employment. “This event is in the students’ minds throughout the school year, and being here gives them a feeling of accomplishment.” Tremblay added that he and Tropicana will continue to support their students after graduation, as they work towards their Levels 2 and 3.
Rajeev Singh, who considers welding to be one of his greatest strengths, accepted an offer of employment from CARSTAR.
“It feels great. I came here with a positive attitude, and that paid off,” he said. Eventually, Singh hopes to own a shop, and in the meantime he plans to learn about every aspect of the industry. It seemed that many of the students attending the fair share common traits of being goal-oriented and aiming high.
Cheyenne Matthews, another passionate Tropicana student, hopes to get into autobody painting. “I started detailing in 2015. I’ve always been interested in cars, but this year is what really did it for me. Showing myself that I could do it has given me a lot of confidence,” she said. According to Matthews, the support she received from the program and Tremblay was huge for her. She added, “I want to become a voice for other women in the industry, and show that it’s not just a man’s world.”
With a father and grandfather who were both in the autobody industry, Tropicana student Jahvon Dinnall has nurtured a lifelong love of autobody. “This whole experience and this program has made me feel confident in myself,” said Dinnall. He expressed his enthusiasm, noting, “I’m very excited and ready to start my career. I’ve got my foot in the door, I’m starting a stable job, and I want to start working my way up the ladder.”
There’s obviously a lot to be gained for employers in attending this career fair, and have been expressing more and more interest in it as the years have progressed, according to Tremblay. One person in particular may sum up the success of the Tropicana program better than anyone. Lorne Jackson started out as a Tropicana student. At the 2017 Career Fair, he was on hand to represent CSN Brimell Paint and Collision Center, where he works as the lead appraiser.
“I did the Tropicana program back in 2012. I went to this same fair, nerve-wracked,” he said. No doubt Jackson’s experience on the other side of the table helped to put some of the candidates at ease.
When opportunity presents itself, Tropicana students seem to grab it with fierce confidence. No doubt the program itself is partly responsible, but it is the students’ willingness to not only improve themselves, but to help their classmates improve, too, allows a classroom of young technicians to grow together.
Hamzah Desai, who has secured a position with Assured Automotive, said, “It feels great. We’ve been working toward this day since the beginning of this program. The teachers are great, and so are the students. We did whatever we could to make sure our classmates could get here today too.”
For more information on the Tropicana program, please click here.