The OCC Effect: Mike Carno, ’13

Mike Carno, ’13 visited the “machine shop classroom” in the Whitney Applied Technology Center recently.

Mike Carno has always enjoyed being a “hands on” kind of worker. After graduating from Bishop Ludden in 2011 he spent the summer working in a machine shop. He planned to attend OCC in the fall but wasn’t sure what he would major in. “A week before the semester started I got a tour of the machine shop (classroom in the Whitney Applied Technology Center) and became a Mechanical Technology major. I wound up loving it.”

While excelling in Mechanical Technology, Carno learned about the College’s Nuclear Technology program. He was intrigued by the career possibilities but stuck with Mechanical Technology, earning his associate degree in 2013 and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY IT two years later.

By the fall of 2015 Carno was back on the OCC campus pursuing degrees in both Nuclear Technology and Electrical Technology. “The cool thing about the nuclear program is that they get people who work at Nine Mile and Fitzpatrick (nuclear plants) to come and teach. They would tell us about the job market and when to apply.”

Carno was about three-quarters of the way through the programs when he applied for a job at Nine Mile and was hired almost instantly. His position in Operations pays extremely well and he’s found the work environment to be outstanding. “It’s a very controlled, very steady pace. Everything is controlled by nuclear procedures. Safety is very big. People are also very open to feedback, especially when you come in as a newer employee and look at things differently than others.”

Two years into his nuclear career Carno remains grateful to OCC and all of the professors who he learned from in the Mechanical Technology, Nuclear Technology and Electrical Technology majors. “The people who were teaching you had done these jobs before and knew what they were talking about. If you had a question that wasn’t straight out of a book, they could answer it. They were very open to helping you as long as you put the work in and definitely oveprepared you.”

You can learn more about OCC’s Mechanical Technology, Electrical Technology and Nuclear Technology majors here. Students who do well in these majors have the option of going directly into the workplace with outstanding starting salaries or transferring and pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

Marigone Istogu

Three years ago Marigone Istogu came to the United States from her home country of Kosovo. Today she is an Electrical Technology major at OCC, owner of a perfect 4.0 grade point average and a member of the leadership team with the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. How did she do it? “I’m a hard worker. When I want something I work hard for it. I don’t give up.”

Istogu came to the U.S. on a fiancé visa. She had become engaged to an Kosovo-born American citizen and married shortly after arriving here. While adjusting to married life she was also busy learning the English language. “I took a course for ESL (English as Second Language), I watched movies, I only read things that were in English and I practiced with my husband and his family.”

In 2017 Istogu began taking classes at OCC. “I like it here. The people are friendly and I have adapted quickly because of the people around me. Everywhere I go people are friendly and offer help.” Her career goal is to become an engineer. “I like math and I like challenges. As an engineer you face a lot of challenges. I enjoy my labs where I get to build circuits.”

Outside class the 24-year-old participates in Toastmasters, an organization that helps members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. She takes part in Conversation Circles about Race, Gender, Religion, Economic Status and Orientation. Istogu also volunteers regularly. “I like to help people when I can. It feels good. I like to get involved, meet new people and learn new cultures.”

Istogu will earn he degree in December 2018. She plans to transfer to Syracuse University.