By bringing together students majoring in construction management and engineering programs, NECA's student chapter program works to foster interest in the electrical construction industry, and help create a source of viable candidates for future management positions within electrical contracting firms. A component of ELECTRI International’s Talent Initiative, the program consists of student-run chapters that are supported by NECA chapters and university faculty. There are currently fifteen active NECA student chapters at universities across the country, and at NECA 2008 Chicago, representatives from most of the student chapters were brought together for the annual NECA Student Chapter Summit Luncheon at the McCormick Lakeside Center.
Of the more than 90 attendees, approximately 50 were students currently involved in student chapters. Other attendees included NECA chapter executives, university faculty, NECA contractors, and individuals with interest in getting involved in the NECA student chapter program. Also in attendance were several former NECA student chapter members who currently hold management-level positions within electrical contracting firms. Summit attendees had the unique opportunity to hear the "success stories" the student chapter alumni had to share. Many had acquired their current positions following internships with NECA contractors, and they offered advice and tips to the student attendees about how to "make the most" of their involvement with student chapters, and the importance of relationship-building with NECA contractors. Faculty advisors, NECA chapter executives, and NECA Contractors who have hired student interns also shared their experiences, and offered advice for how to run productive and beneficial student chapter programs.
Summit guests also heard from Russ Alessi, President of ELECTRI International, who discussed components of the Talent Initiative that offer opportunities for NECA student chapters. Alessi discussed matching grants for NECA chapters to offer student scholarships, stipends for university faculty who manage student chapters, and an intellectual, student competition that is being developed by ELECTRI International, which will prepare students for their future careers and allow them to stand out among their peers.
According to Greg Mankevich, Executive Director of NECA-MEI, attendance for the second-annual summit exceeded expectations, which is a definite sign that the student chapter program is gaining momentum.
"The excitement surrounding the student chapter program was palpable. The students who attended were eager to share their experiences and network with their fellow students and NECA contractors. And our NECA contractor guests had the opportunity to learn more about the program, and meet the students who will, in the very new future, be available to fill management positions within their firms. One of our most important roles, as members of the NECA team, is to look out for the future of our industry, and one of our best tools is the NECA student chapter program—because it is from this impressive group of young people that we are identifying and preparing our industry’s future leaders."