Nestled in an unassuming corner on the second floor of the Main Building is a program that is helping 19 struggling students achieve their goals this semester — Career Transitions.
Career Transitions Director Lisa Brown said she helps her students be in the best possible position for employment after finishing their degrees or certificates. She said all of them are recommended to the program by the Department of Human Services.
Brown said her students must qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to receive the support of the program. She said the students are mostly first-generation college students, and are enthusiastic about breaking into the educational world.
Students in tough situations are referred to the program, Brown said. She said she tells her students they are more likely to succeed due to the assistance of Career Transitions.
“We are a plus, not a minus,” Brown said. “We try to empower them with confidence and let them know that the key is education to change [their] world.
“Everyone is excited about OCCC.”
Brown said the two-year program runs year round. She said while other students are sleeping in during winter and summer breaks, Career Transitions students are busy preparing for their up-and coming careers.
They spend their breaks learning job readiness, time management, ethics in the workplace, and participating in interpersonal relationship training, Brown said.
“That is the one complaint I hear from my students,” she said.
Brown said she, along with the program’s staff employment coach, retention coach and transition coach, help students see the journey as well as the big picture at the end.
“We try to address the total student,” she said.
Between classes and training, Brown said, first-year students devote a required 35 hours completing coursework.
In their second year, students are required to complete an internship with a private or nonprofit employer for 20 hours each week.
Students are assigned to internships related to their field of study and future employment, Brown said.
They also put in time learning to dress for success. Brown said.
She said she stresses to her students to always dress professionally, regardless of an interview.
“You are always interviewing.” Brown said. “You never know who you are going to meet in the hall.”
Career Transitions partners with Suited for Success, a non-profit organization that helps women entering the workforce look professional for interviews.
However, the amount of clothing they can receive from the nonprofit is limited so they have a clothes closet for their students located in their office and are currently seeking donations of good quality professional clothing.
Miranda Favela graduated from the program in 2012. She said she studied automotive technology and was assigned to an internship at Auto Zone, where she began working before she graduated. She said she still works there today.
Favela said she believes she would not have finished college without the structure of the Career Transitions program.
“I am very thankful for the people who have worked there before my time and after,” Favela said.
“The people who work there really do care about the type of girls that come through the program.”
Favela said having the support of the Career Transitions staff and peers made her feel comforted.
“It is good to have a place you can go and know that there are people in similar situations as you and there is someone to guide you and help you through,” she said of the program’s staff.
“In life and in school, and with children, it is always a struggle to keep that balance, and they kind of helped us all to keep that balance.”
For more information on the Career Transitions program, contact Lisa Brown at 405-682-7896 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.