Beatrice Faida came to OCC’s Job & Experience Fair April 20 in search of a job. Faida took her time going through the Allyn Hall gymnasium, perusing the 90 employers who had set up displays and hung their banners in search of employees. “It was great the way there were so many businesses in one place,” Faida said. “You could never visit all of them in one day if they weren’t here.”
Nearly 400 job seekers attended the fair which was organized and presented by the College’s Career and Applied Learning Center. It was the headliner in a series of events which began in March, all aimed at helping students and alumni find jobs. Related events focused on resume and LinkedIn profile writing, good and bad things to say to a prospective employer and how to dress for an interview and work. The Center collected donated professional clothes for students and alumni to utilize for interviews and jobs.
As for Faida, she’s a second semester student who is a native of Tanzania. She’s involved in the Liberty Partnerships Program which provides assistance to students who may be at risk or underprepared for college or a career. Her goal is to find employment assisting others. “I want a job where I can help people from other countries who have gone through a transition to the United States like I have.”
The College’s Career and Applied Learning Center is open year round to help students like Faida and alumni. You can learn more by contacting the center at (315) 498-2585 or email@example.com.
Ralph Lyke has a knack for numbers. Ask him when he started working at New Process Gear in Dewitt and without hesitating he says, “May 17, 1976.” Ask him when his last day on the job was and he rattles off, “May 2, 2008” just as fast. Perhaps it’s no coincidence his new career is centered around numbers. Lyke prepares tax returns for low-income citizens. He credits OCC’s Career and Applied Learning Center with helping set him on the right path.
After getting laid off in 2008 Lyke spent several years doing volunteer work. “I wanted to help people in the community. It was also important to have something on my resume between New Process Gear and whatever would come next.”
Lyke began working on “whatever would come next” in the summer of 2011 when he began pursuing an Accounting degree at OCC. His tuition was covered thanks to the Trade Adjustment Act. It provides support for workers who lost their jobs due to foreign trade and offers services in gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to obtain future employment.
Lyke remembers the day everything changed for him. “I was in income tax accounting class and a student told me he was doing an internship. He told me to go see Rose Martens in the Career and Applied Learning Center.” Lyke took the student’s advice and he was on his way. “She arranged an internship for me at PEACE.” Lyke worked as a tax preparer and did so well he was named the PEACE 2013 Volunteer of the Year. That same year he earned his Accounting degree from OCC.
As the 2014 tax season approached a position with PEACE opened up. Lyke was offered it and accepted. He now comes to OCC every Monday during tax season and works on returns for low-income people who need assistance. The rest of his time is spent in Dewitt’s Shoppingtown Mall where he does tax returns Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “This isn’t a job. It’s more like a calling. We help middle and low income people. It’s very rewarding when you can help people out.”
Lyke is not only happy to help others, he’s grateful for the new career he found. “I was lucky. I’m 60 years old. Your options are limited at my age. The starting point was Rose Martens. If I hadn’t met her I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Joe Madison had already completed a semester of college work by the time he graduated from Baldwinsville high school in June 2015. Madison earned a total of 16 college credits, making his transition to college much easier.
Madison is an Engineering Science major with an Honors minor. His high-level performance in class has earned him induction into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He credits the faculty with playing a huge role in his success. “The professors here are very nice and helpful. With the smaller class sizes you can interact more. Instead of big huge lecture halls where the teacher just stands up there and writes things and then you leave, here you get to ask questions and know your professor and they are very helpful both in class and during their office hours.”
Madison is utilizing the College’s Career and Applied Learning Center to get a first-hand look at what a degree in Engineering Science will mean to him. He’s setting up job shadows which will allow him to see what workers in the field do on a daily basis. It’s one more way in which he’s enjoying his time at OCC. “My experience here has been very good. I’m very impressed with it. You’re not spending a ton of money while you’re deciding what you are going to be doing someday.”
In June of 2015 Jenn DeRosa was named Valedictorian at Skaneateles High School. Less than one year later she’ll earn a degree from OCC. When she leaves campus she’ll be on a different career path than she had planned.
“I came here set on being a pre-med student,” DeRosa said. “I wanted to major in biochemistry and do all of the prerequisites for medical school.” During her first semester DeRosa went to the College’s Career and Applied Learning Center and signed up to volunteer at a hospital. “I realized the atmosphere in a hospital wasn’t right for me. It made me rethink what I wanted to do.”
At the same time DeRosa was working on an Honors project with Chemistry Professor Doug Hagrman which focused on utilizing a High Performance Liquid Chromatography machine. Her fascination with chemistry blossomed into an internship with a research lab, Ichor Therapeutics on Route 11 in Lafayette. “The class and everything I was working on changed my future.”
DeRosa is now focused on a career in Chemical Engineering. She built the foundation for it at OCC where she’s a Mathematics and Science major with an Honors minor. Her outstanding classwork led to her induction into international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.
DeRosa is the second high-achieving member of her family to attend OCC. Her older sister Stephanie was Skaneateles High School’s Class of 2013 Salutatorian. Stephanie earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average in OCC’s Engineering Science major and is now at the University of California at Berkeley pursuing a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. Stephanie and Jenn’s father graduated from a community college and always told his daughters, “You get a great bang for your buck at a community college and you pay the least for it.”
As Jenn completes her second and final semester at OCC she’s grateful for the opportunities she found on campus. “All of the people here were so willing to lead you in the direction you wanted to go in. I came here with so many expectations and they were more than filled. I’m so excited I got to experience my life here first, otherwise I’m not sure where I would be.”
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