In a world where some people may be competing with a dozen others for one job, companies are knocking on UNB’s door to hire forestry students.
Fourth-year UNB student Stewart Hillhouse knows that from first-hand experience.
In his first year, he was hired by Western Forest Products and spent the summer on Vancouver Island, taking in the sights while gaining real-world work experience.
Two years later, he got offered a summer job in Edmonton – just two weeks after meeting company recruiters in Fredericton. He was offered the job without even being interviewed.
“It’s pretty unique in that sense that companies realize it’s sort of a short order job and there’s a bunch of willing students who don’t really have any tie-downs yet,” Hillhouse said.
Companies are competing to hire UNB forestry students. That’s why there’s a 95 per cent employment rate in the natural resource sector.
UNB forestry dean Van Lantz said this often stems from summer work opportunities.
“Students go to work for companies in the summer,” Lantz said. “They find out if it’s the right match and often they’ll continue on and get jobs once they graduate as well, so definitely the hands-on learning is very much an example of what they do in the real world.”
Combine the summer work terms with real client projects, outdoor labs and small class sizes, and it’s no surprise graduates succeed in their careers.
Lantz said UNB forestry graduates are flexible enough to work in many positions in the natural resource sector, from forestry management to conservation to wildlife protection.
UNB forestry has a national reputation due in part to the quality work completed by graduates of the program. Lantz said graduates have designed and supported 500 million hectares of forestry across six continents.
Other graduates are involved in forestry management planning efforts, with UNB represented in every Canadian province and territory.
“Our graduates are very much involved in forestry plans across Canada.”
This year the forestry program welcomed 42 first-year students, about a 250 per cent increase over recent years. Lantz said the forestry sector has been in a decline but is on the upswing, meaning companies will be looking for new employees.
“This year we’ve had over 140 positions where companies are coming into the university saying, ‘We want to interview your students,’ and they come right in and interview on-site here. There’s a huge demand – there’s a competition actually between the companies to get in here earlier to get the students before the next company comes in.”
These jobs can set students up for success in the rest of their schooling and once they’re in the real world. Often students receive job offers from employers before they graduate. With nearly one-third of current forestry employers nearing retirement age, Lantz said current and future students will feel that impact.
“There’s going to be a huge demand and the students now coming into the program are going to be in the right spot at the right time.”
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