The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one location, the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, the show provides participants with educational seminars, product demonstrations, and opportunities for networking and attending special events. SEMA Show 2011 drew more than 60,000 domestic and international buyers and the new products showcase featured nearly 1,500 parts, tools and components. This was the fifth consecutive year that SEMA officials invited Loyalist College Automotive students to participate in the student internship program. Loyalist is the only Canadian automotive college program to be extended this invitation.
Pearl Kersey was one of seven Loyalist students to attend SEMA this fall. She came to the college from Caledon East, completed the first two years of her Automotive Service Technician apprenticeship and then moved to Alberta to work. She returned to Loyalist for her third and final in-class session, went to SEMA with her classmates and has now moved back to Alberta. “SEMA opened my eyes to everything in the automotive world. I went to a Business Women’s Network seminar, where women talked about what they did in the automotive industry and how they got into it. Advice was given and questions were answered. Everyone exchanged contact information to start a network. I found everyone was very welcoming to the fact that we were from Canada.
“The SEMA internship program was exceptional. I’m so happy we were included in it. You gain an understanding of how the companies work and what the different jobs are like. I interned with Hypertech and immediately Amy Faulk, the CEO, introduced me to an automotive marketing consultant they work with. He asked for my résumé as soon as he heard I was a newly graduated, soon to be licensed, automotive student. It was exciting to see the many opportunities for students to jumpstart their careers.”
“I was proud that we are the first automotive students – and the only Canadian ones – to be invited year after year,” said Loyalist student Chris Drumm. “I met amazing industry professionals that I would never have met if I had not gone. I’ve been in contact with them since I came home and have received some job offers.”
Student Mason Atkinson described his trip highlight. “The connections that I made at SEMA were unreal. I talked for over half an hour to Gale Banks, the person I consider to be the smartest individual to ever tinker with diesel engines.”
“It was obvious that our faculty really wanted us to gain as much from the experience as possible, ensuring that we took advantage of every opportunity,” said Andrew Vorsteveld from Port Hope. “I found that I learned a great deal about the marketing aspects of the automotive field. I can’t thank the faculty enough for arranging this trip. I had a blast and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.”