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PMTC mentors connect students to trucking industry

The transportation industry is always on the lookout for talent and carriers are constantly trying to fill vacancies for qualified drivers, mechanics, and office staff.

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) Young Leaders Group teamed up with Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont., to offer a mentorship program to students interested in starting a career in the industry.

Four students from the supply chain management program – Valeri Sena Aguirre, Casey Bruton, Siddharth Nair and Olawale Afolabi – were selected to be mentored after providing a resume and proof of volunteer work, attending an interview, and describing why they wanted to join the industry.

Picture of students mentored by PMTC
From left, Casey Bruton, Olawale Afolabi, Leanne Drummond, Valeri Sena Aguirre, and Siddharth Nair. (Photo: Supplied)

Leanne Drummond, business development manager, CPC Logistics Canada; Stephanie Carruth, founder, Minds for Matter; Sud Malholtra, fleet solutions specialist – risk management services, Intact Public Entities; and Victor Pereira, vice-president of operations, Better Together Group of Companies are providing guidance and mentorship.

“As an industry we know about our shortages, we talk about it till we are blue in the face, but there are only a few people that are looking for ways to correct that and bring people into the industry,” says Drummond. “All of us should be looking for opportunities to help spread what our career has done for us, find ways to help those coming into the industry.”

The value of networking

The real value of the program is in networking. Students got a chance to rub shoulders with seasoned industry professionals at the recent PMTC conference, providing networking opportunities and insight into the business.

The mentors provided resume writing tips, practiced interview scenarios with the students and introduced them to their colleagues and peers.

And there is evidence of success. Student Aguirre, who recently graduated from Mohawk’s the supply chain management program, has landed a job with a freight forward forwarding company and starts work soon.

“When you are an international student it is difficult to meet people here in Canada,” Aguirre says, added that her mentor Carruth conducted mock interviews with her, boosting her confidence. “She always has a lot of time and advice for me.”

Picture of Sud Malhotra
Sud Malhotra (Photo: Supplied)

Mentor Malhotra knows the challenges international students face because he was one a few years ago. He mentored student Nair, and says it was like looking at himself in the mirror.

“He [Nair] focuses on things that I used to focus on. He is keen on volunteering, knows the value of networking, absorbs information, and utilizes it.”

Malhotra says there weren’t many people offering support when he started out and is keen to offer advice and encouragement. He added that the connections you make at conferences are important. “It boosts your confidence and opens doors,” he says.

PMTC president Mike Millian says the group’s members benefit because they get to pick the cream of the crop to work for them. The students were offered free membership for a year and attended the group’s conference, exposing them to the industry, members, and their companies.

Picture of Mike Millian
Mike Millian (Photo: Leo Barros)

The students will be mentored until next March. Millian says another college has reached out to the PMTC and if the program is successful, it could expand.

Recent graduate Nair is interested in sustainable logistics in trucking and will be pursuing a project management course. He says the mentorship program broadened his understanding of the trucking industry, including compliance and safety aspects.

He welcomed the networking opportunities saying that it would be difficult to otherwise talk to industry professionals directly. “Logistics for graduate students is like a big sea, and mentors were like captains telling us what we should do and what we should avoid,” he says.

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