Myakka City’s Annabel Larsen finished her Accounting Operations program on a Friday in March.
The following Monday, Larsen already was hard at work at her accounting job with Mercedes Scientific in Lakewood Ranch.
Larsen said being able to secure a job right after finishing her eight-month program at Manatee Technical College was a blessing. She was hired after working at Mercedes Scientific as an intern while enrolled at MTC.
“That was one thing I was kind of scared of because I have two young kids,” Larsen said. “I was blessed to have my husband who was able to financially support us while I was in school, but of course, I was ready and gung ho to start contributing again. It made me feel so blessed that I got this opportunity and the internship, which in turn, brought me to my new career that I absolutely love.”
Many of the 533 students who graduated from Manatee Technical College June 29 were able to get jobs while enrolled in their programs at MTC, through MTC connections or after graduating.
Valerie Viands, the director of MTC, said each program has an advisory board made up of the college’s business and industry partners, and oftentimes, those partners will come to MTC before students graduate to recruit potential employees.
Viands said students have between an 80% and 100% job placement rate depending on the program.
“Our students finish a program, they end up with a certification or licensure and a job when they leave,” Viands said. “We’re proud of all of our students. They come here, they develop a skill and then ultimately, they take that skill and become an amazing employee here in our community.”
Many students, such as Larsen and Bradenton’s Elias Castillo, remain in Manatee or Sarasota counties after they graduate to work at businesses in the area.
Before Castillo graduated, he had interviews with several companies including the company he works for now, which is Minuteman Press in East County.
“I felt I didn’t have to worry about looking for a job,” Castillo said. “Honestly I owe a lot to my instructor because she helped me find these jobs and she reached out to these people for me. All I had to do was show up and present myself.”
MTC provided programs for students such as Bradenton’s Rebecca Sauerbier and Sarasota’s Alena Rigas to pursue their dream careers.
Sauerbier was able to get a job as a licensed practical nurse at Pines of Sarasota, which is one of the locations in which she completed her clinicals.
Sauerbier has wanted to be a nurse since she was a kid and after 10 years of being a stay-at-home mother, she said it was time to get back into the workforce.
“Having a program that was in the evenings and clinicals on the weekends made it so much easier for me to attain that goal,” Sauerbier said.
Rigas has wanted a career in dentistry since she was 8 years old and participated in a take your child to work day. She went with her mother, Lisa Rigas, who was working in a dentist’s office.
“They let me sit in the corner and watch all the procedures, and I didn’t faint,” Rigas said. “I always liked the environment and now I’m happy I get to be in it every day.”
Rigas accepted a position at Dr. Glori Enzor’s private practice in Sarasota after completing MTC’s Dental Assisting program.
“I’m looking forward to building patient relationships and learning from her because she’s also one of two dentists in the state that do forensic odontology,” Rigas said. “I’ll be able to go with her to the morgue and help identify people for families that have been in car accidents and stuff like that, which I didn’t know was even a thing until I was there.”
MTC gives people, like Larsen, an opportunity to start second careers. Larsen previously worked in medical assisting for 10 years but when the pandemic hit, she didn’t want to continue in the field. Her desire to get back to work brought her to MTC’s Accounting Operations program.
“Of course it’s not going to start you for a position as CFO, but because the teacher is so well versed in the accounting role, she was able to teach us the full accounting cycle,” Larsen said. “Even though you’re going to be starting in an entry level position, you understand the full process of the accounting cycle and that gives you a broader mindset of why you have to do things the way you have to do them.”
Larsen is working at Mercedes Scientific part time but hopes to move to a full-time position working in the accounts receivable and accounts payable departments.
Sarasota’s Jasmine Redding was working for the City of Sarasota as an administrative assistant for the code compliance department before she decided to switch gears and enroll in MTC’s Practical Nursing program to help her 6-year-old son, Carmello, who has special needs.
“The program, I can honestly say, was definitely life changing,” Redding said. “When I was young, I didn’t think this would be the field for me, and (my son) completely changed that. I feel more prepared for him and his future.”
Redding is working for NurseCore to help support her son and also plans to work part time at either HCA Florida Blake Hospital or First Physicians Group.
A benefit of enrolling in MTC programs is the length of the program. Castillo’s program only took 10 months.
“In the timeframe of 10 months, I’ve learned as much as some of my friends that are in universities for design,” he said. “The pace we went worked well for me, and I gained the skills and knowledge to be able to go out and do things on my own now.”
Several students said their courses have prepared them to enter the workforce.
“You can’t compare the amount of love these teachers had poured into us to make sure we were super prepared for being out in the real world and making sure when we were at our clinical sites we were getting the experience we needed,” Sauerbier said. “(Becoming a licensed practical nurse) is the most exciting thing I can imagine. I cannot even believe I’m here today. It’s been the longest and shortest year of my life, but it’s just the most overwhelming feeling.”