OC has variety of programs for career changes

Posted on October 6, 2020

Odessa American oanews@oaoa.com

Opportunities to pursue higher education, change careers or learn new skills are still available at Odessa College.

A Coffee and Community Conversation on the OC Facebook page Wednesday was moderated by Vice President of Instruction Tramaine Anderson and featured Jennifer Myers, dean of the School of Business and Industry, Pervis Evans, dean of the school of liberal arts and education, Nicole Hays, interim dean of the School of Health Sciences and two lead academic success coaches Chelsy Nanny and Mireya Jacuinde.

Hays said Odessa College meets students where they are and has wraparound services.

There is financial aid and emergency funding available.

Nanny said they work with students to see what career best suits them and have them look at labor statistics to see what the employment opportunities are.

Anderson said they are seeing the workforce starting to change with the retirement of the baby boomers resulting in an intergenerational workforce.

Myers said one of the things employers look for is soft skills — personal and interpersonal interactions, customer service and showing up on time.

She added that the customer service piece is important such as how you look. She added that writing is also still an important part of every job.

Evans said the school of liberal arts has developed some relevant modified contextualized courses. Business and professional communications is one example, as is learning business etiquette.

In nursing, Hays said, there is a nursing shortage that is going to get worse as baby boomers retire.

Hays noted that the soft skills cannot be lost and critical thinking and empathy are two examples of what are needed.

Nanny said there are many scholarship opportunities available and she always encourages people to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid application.

“We also have the CARES Act here at OC for students who have been affected by COVID,” she added.

Jacuinde noted that it’s not too late to find a new career. She said when new students come into the office they try to have in-depth conversations to put them on a career path that fits them.

If someone is interested in enrolling at OC, their first stop is the Wrangler Express at the Saulsbury Campus Center. For advising, there are extended hours Monday through Thursday until 7 p.m.; Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Nanny said virtual advising also is available for the same hours as the extended hours.

Evans said continuing education may be a viable option for people who are upskilling or changing careers.

Officials noted that getting a certificate also is a quicker option.

Anderson said one area where there are open spots is teaching. Myers added automotive and diesel technicians and noted that there is always a need for office assistants, bookkeepers and accountants.

There is still a need for welders, police officers, criminal justice professionals, computer technology, Cisco certification, which is available at OC and personal computer support.

Hays said there are continuing education opportunities for people who want to go into phlebotomy, massage therapy, firefighting, EMT and paramedics.

She added that the positive thing about these programs is that you can earn a certificate in a relatively short period of time.

Anderson added that the electrical lineman program also is available and linemen are in high demand.

Experiential learning is embedded in pathways like psychology, substance abuse, visual and performing arts and teaching, Evans said.

Myers said every one of her programs has an internship component and the students are working with instructors that have been in the field.

She added that they meet with their workforce partners every semester to report to them and for them to provide feedback.

Evans said his school was going to start four-week courses in spring 2021, but for the class of 2020, they’re going to start them sooner. By taking these four-week chunks, Evans said students could achieve their core completion in a year.

Officials said there also is support for students in whatever they need to be successful.

“We meet them where they are and give wraparound support,” Hays said.