A record number of college students and recent graduates came to Rock Lititz Career Exploration Conference Friday as the annual event returned to the campus after being canceled in 2020 and being virtual in 2021.
About 430 students from 63 colleges traveled from 16 states to learn about the live entertainment industry. Students from Lancaster Bible College, Millersville University, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology were among the participants.
The live events industry is experiencing a resurgence and a need for new workers since being shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are actively recruiting for talent on a continuing basis,” said Dave Lester, director of education for Clair Global, the world’s largest provider of sound systems for touring bands. Clair developed Rock Lititz along with Tait Towers, now called just Tait, the world’s largest provider of staging for live events.
For the event, Rock Lititz partnered with Lancaster STEM Alliance, The Live Event Association of Pennsylvania. It was held at Pod 2 at Rock Lititz, the 250,000 square-foot collaborative hub of the 96-acre Rock Lititz campus, and the new rehearsal Studio 2, which opened in April 2022.
Rock Lititz in Warwick Township is also home to more than 50 live event-related businesses, a hotel and restaurant, and Studio 1, the largest purpose-built production rehearsal facility for the entertainment industry.
“We were excited to collaborate with Diversify the Stage and offer a more in-depth tour of our office in Lititz curated to the student’s interests,” said Tori Hartman, TAIT marketing manager. Tait held an in-office panel where students could ask questions and learn how to start their career in live entertainment.
In September, Tait and eight other companies in Rock Lititz came together for a fabricators job fair to recruit welders, machinists, carpenters, electricians, CNC (computer numerical control) operators and others for the live events industry.
The fabricators fair has already been fruitful for Tait, which offered four people positions and has several more candidates coming in next week, Hartman said.
“We received many resumes at the job fair and built connections with several local hiring companies, increasing our local network,” Hartman said. “We are also collaborating with high school and technical college students who attended the job fair to organize co-ops, internships, and part-time work.”
Suzi Meyer, Rock Lititz campus general manager, said Friday’s career exploration event helps the companies connect with energized, engaged students who are the next generation of live event professionals
While live events may be glamorous and exciting to attend, students heard about the challenges and career opportunities behind the scenes. Students learned about the life of a roadie, production and tour managers, designers and engineers.
The goal of the day was to give the students hands-on, realistic views of what it’s like to work in the live event industry. More than 75 professionals from behind-the-scenes elements of the live event industry spent the day sharing their experiences and unique career responsibilities to give students a look at how events are built.
They spent part of the day in a real-time setup for a music festival, seeing multi-layered roles and skills that a successful live event requires.