Some of the most common questions hiring managers receive are from ambitious students wondering what they can do now to increase their chances of gaining employment once they finish high school. While there are many different paths one can take, there are a few less traveled ones that are worthy of a second look, especially when considering a career in manufacturing.

TRUMPF is a high-technology company offering manufacturing solutions in the fields of machine tools, laser technology and electronics. At each of its U.S. locations, TRUMPF manufactures a variety of machine tools, high- and low-powered lasers, punching machines, and press brake equipment embracing rapidly changing technology and meeting the ever-increasing needs of our customers. TRUMPF fosters an environment of innovative thinking and cutting-edge technology, and is always on the forefront of new technology.

What can a high school student who aspires to work at a progressive company like TRUMPF do to increase their chances?

Sarah Michaud is a talent management specialist at TRUMPF Inc. in Farmington.

Trade or technical skill sets are an important factor when companies consider candidates for employment. Recruiters often look for related work experience. Some ways to get this work experience and amass trade or technical skills are internships, co-ops and work studies. For example, TRUMPF frequently offers these options in addition to facility tours, and participates in many committees and organizations to work cooperatively with other manufacturing companies to enhance best hiring practices in the changing landscape. The primary goal is always to connect with a diverse group of applicants. These offer real-life work experiences and look great on a resume. Many talent specialists strongly encourage those in a technical high school or college to take advantage of those opportunities. They will enable a candidate to determine if the degree chosen is really what they want to do fulltime after graduation and also show a potential employer what they have learned and gained from that experience.

By utilizing a co-op, work study or internship to experience working in the chosen area, you can learn whether that is where your passion lies without committing much of your time. Hiring managers look for passion. They look for true interest in the field, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and grow in the current position.

Many students are encouraged to attend college after graduating from high school. While a completed degree is necessary to go in many directions, such as engineering, it’s not the only form of education recognized by many employers including TRUMPF. Certificate degree programs offered by many local community colleges or technical high schools are short-term study programs providing classes on a specific area or topic, and these are looked upon favorably by hiring managers. TRUMPF will look at resumes for more details about projects they have worked on. These details provide us with insight to what individuals have learned, technical abilities and creativity.

If looking for an option combining both education and work experience, consider an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships, at one time, were very common, and many individuals found them to be beneficial in terms of professional growth. Over the years, apprenticeships have fallen in popularity, but there are many advantages to completing one. Through an apprenticeship program, you receive both education and hands on practical experience. After completion, you receive a state certificate, which is recognized nationwide. This type of program, with the right mentor, can be the gateway to a life-long successful career. TRUMPF has an apprenticeship program and has successfully transitioned individuals into full-time positions within the company.

For students who are looking to the future, it would be to their benefit to examine all options that are available to them. While a four-year university program is a viable option, it isn’t the only one. There are many other ways to secure a lucrative career, and almost all require less time and financial commitment to complete. Considering every individual learns and excels differently, the best advice one could give to a graduating student would be to consider all of the options available, even the ones that are less utilized, and pursue the one that best suits the candidate’s learning style. Also, utilize these programs to find what excites you. Employers doen’t require or even expect candidates to have all necessary skills for a job they apply for, but passion and love of learning are must-haves for TRUMPF and most other companies.