Northwood University praises student involvement at HDAW

In short, the joint effort between GenNext and Northwood University to help ten aftermarket students attend Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) was a complete success.

Sponsored by Accuride, Bendix, Betts HD, Hendrickson, Minimizer and the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA), the students spend the week assisting event organizers, shadowing industry professionals, attending educational sessions and networking events.

GenNext and Northwood University were both thrilled by the results.

“I was getting really positive feedback from industry people all last week,” says Donna Wagner, chair and professor of aftermarket management at Northwood University. “We received a lot of comments from industry people about how well [the students] represented the University.”

Wagner says the concept of including young aftermarket students in the HDAW experience was originally proposed to her by Nikki Paschall, marketing assistant at HDA Truck Pride and GenNext Recruitment committee chair.

Paschall says she and GenNext President Steve Hansen came up with the scholarship idea, and chose Northwood because of its aftermarket-specific program.

When proposed, the scholarship idea was quickly accepted by the school and set into motion, Wagner says.

Nearly two dozen students applied for scholarships to attend the event, with ten (Ryan Talaga, AJ Rodriguez, Jim Herzog, Patrick Schmitter, Tim Campbell, Matt Freeman, Alicia Laeder, Marissa Pomaville, Mikayla Lechenet and Lisa Kisil) receiving scholarships.

Once there, Wagner says the students were active in attending networking events, educational sessions and assisting event organizers in a variety of tasks.

“It was such an excellent experience for them” she says. “They were able to be active participants.”

The event was most of the students’ first encounter with the heavy-duty aftermarket, too, Paschall says, which made their enjoyment of the program that much more fulfilling.

“Our assumption that many of them had never considered the heavy-duty industry as a potential job market was 100 percent accurate, and the internship gave them the opportunity to not only immerse themselves into the industry, but meet key players in the market,” Paschall says. “With five of the student interns being seniors, the internship offered job prospects and lifelong connections that will propel them into their careers.”

The heavy-duty industry was equally impressed by the students, adds Wagner. Several were offered summer internship opportunities and the entire group — seniors and juniors — expressed interest in returning to HDAW in 2016.

“The ten Northwood University students were incredibly well-received at HDAW by suppliers and distributors alike,” adds Hansen, also director of corporate accounts at Minimizer. “The experience they gained was unbelievable and will certainly impact their career path.  I owe a big thank you to all involved in making this a successful recruiting effort for GenNext and the heavy-duty aftermarket.”

Wagner says Northwood hopes to continue the program next year.

“It was heartwarming for me to know that it was a good experience for the students,” she says. “That is what our program is about – bringing students and the industry together – and this fit really well.”

“Overall it was a tremendous success,” says Paschall. “We are thrilled the inaugural year went so smoothly and we are excited to see where next year takes us!”

Northwood University offers four-year undergraduate aftermarket degrees, as well as Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) or Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional (MAAP) designations through its University of the Aftermarket program.

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