Two local colleges are prepared to advise students on their career choices in this tough economy by offering advice and assessments that can help them find a job that meets their interests and financial goals.
With school starting back, the economy continues to suffer while college students appeal more to career options offering better benefits for their financial success. A chance to start their career right out of college would be a huge step. So, which fields are at the top of the list?
Representatives from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Moultrie Technical College can help answer that question. ABAC Public Relations Director Mike Chason confirms that the School of Nursing and Health Sciences continues to be a popular field of study for students.
“Many students are taking classes hoping to get into the nursing program. Plenty of jobs in the medical field are available in the South Georgia area, so students do not have to move far away,” Chason said.
Career Services Director Annie Sims added, “I would say the top five areas of study are health care, education, computer science, law enforcement and business. Anything in consumer services is good right now in this economy.”
On the Moultrie Technical College campus, the medical field remains on top as well.
“Practical nursing has been on top lately in our allied health program on our Web site. This program additionally includes: radiology, neuromuscular therapy, medical assisting, surgical technology, certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technology. Radiology and neuromuscular therapy are only available in Moultrie and surgical technology in Tifton,” MTC Student Affairs Director Leah Godley said.
At ABAC, the school of agriculture and natural resources has sparked interest with young students.
“It’s the latest school of study on campus and the No. 1 industry in
Georgia. Students in that study can easily find a job around here in forestry, wildlife and now we’re offering two new bachelor’s degrees in diversified agriculture and turfgrass and golf course management. There are a lot of opportunities out there for them,” Chason said.
Furthermore, education hasn’t suffered. This field of study continues to appeal to students.
“Students can get their two-year out of the way at ABAC. They can continue to stay here in Tifton to get their bachelor’s through Georgia Southwestern State University without leaving home. A lot of students choose this area. We have a lot of different programs for a lot of different people over the world,” Chason said.
ABAC strives to help students prepare for the future.
Carrie Hall, an ABAC student, is majoring in early childhood education. She received her associate’s degree in marketing from Albany State University.
“When I married my husband, a Tifton native, I transferred over to ABAC. I changed majors because most of the jobs I found in marketing was commission based and I didn’t want a job based only off of that,” Hall said. “I figured education is a stable career to get into. Teachers are always needed.”
A Discover program has been put in place to help students identify a major and future career. This has been successful at ABAC. Students can voluntarily set up an appointment with the Department of Career Services to see where they stand with their career choice. However, some instructors do require their students to use it as a source in their papers.
“Students come to us for a wide variety of reasons, mainly for career information,” Sims said. “Most choose to take the Career Interest Inventory to match their personality to a career or major that best fits their interests. Students who have taken it admit that it’s very insightful and confirms what they have been thinking or opens different areas they never thought about. Those who need some direction in finding a major really benefit from it.”
At Moultrie Tech, Career Services Director Wendi Tostenson recognizes there are two sector of students, those coming from high school straight into college and those who have worked for years and have possibly been laid off of a job.
“We are very aware of the economic situation. We have seen a large amount of students. They want a secure career and training that gives them specific skills. They’re picking a technical college to develop skill sets immediately put in place for the job market. Students are able to have on-the-job training. Their interested in the skill sets we can provide them, placement opportunities and co-op programs,” Tostenson said.
Furthermore, Moultrie Tech recognizes the increased interest in industrial systems technology and business administrative technology.
“A lot of people who were laid off from businesses such as Cooper Tire and Shaw Industries are interested in these specific programs. Because of the maintenance and mechanical work, more men coming from Cooper are going into industrial systems whereas more women from Shaw are going into business administrative,” Career Services Coordinator Bridgett Adams said.
“Experience is not enough now. These people have been on the job for 20 years starting back when they were 18. They have the experience, but they’re lacking something behind their names like a certificate or diploma to back that up. Today, in this job market, that’s a requirement. At Moultrie Tech, we can offer both. We can give them the skill sets for a job and practical experience. Our goal is for students to have that actual real world experience so that when they start their career, they know 100 percent what’s expected of them,” Tostenson said.
A new program called GREEN Tift will be introduced on Sept. 29 on the Moultrie Tech campus. Project Director Whitney Hudson expects this program to benefit many students. It is designed to teach students about energy and renewable resources. Three programs included are: Energy Efficiency Assessment, Renewable Electrical Power and Green Construction.
“Students can enter the program without their GED but by the time the program is over, they have to have it. Having their GED is very important in getting a job,” Hudson said.
“Seeing that some of the jobs we have won’t be here years later, green is where we’re going to go. The GREEN program will bring in more jobs for the community,” Tostenson said.
For some students, it’s more about the opportunity than making money. Moultrie Tech supports this and motivates students to find interest in a career that suits them for the rest of their life.
“We do not want to steer students into something they are not going to be happy in. We listen to their interests and lay out their options for them to make their own educated decision,” Godley said. “However, we do have some students who ask and go after the money-making careers, particularly welding. It has become very popular. That’s where the money is right now, but we’re trying to find out what makes them happy.”
Adams added, “That is what sets us apart from a traditional school. There are specific programs for students to get into. Therefore, they have to narrow down their choices and find what best fits them.”
Two Moultrie Tech students in the middle of completing the two-year surgical technology program understand the economy is slow but there are great opportunities out there for them.
“There is always going to be sick people and surgical technology is a good job opportunity,” said Emily Smith, a Tifton native.
“Surgical technology is interesting, good hands-on, very professional and there’s good money in it. Other than that, it would make my day to know I helped in saving someone’s life. It feels good to help others,” said Jay Gordon, another Tifton native.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.