Pickens Technical College offers students more than a typical classroom experience. In fact, PTC instructors often go above and beyond for their students to offer them just that—experience. PTC courses give students the chance to learn by experimenting and working in real-world scenarios so they can apply those experiences directly to their new career when they graduate.
The Heating and Air Conditioning Service Technology Program at PTC is a shining example of what experience can do for a student headed into the professional world. Instructor Wayne Blackwell, a 20-year veteran of the HVAC industry, is always on the lookout for new internship opportunities for his students. These internships are fully sponsored by PTC and provide school credit for real-world experience. Blackwell devotes his class time to both teaching his students HVAC repair theory and to working with professional HVAC contractors on real projects.
PTC is part of the Aurora Public Schools network, which allows it to offer students unpaid internships at several businesses for school credit. Blackwell himself says he reaches out to HVAC contractors in the area and invites them personally to take part in the internship program. He also has connections with the local HVAC workers’ union that can help find opportunities for students to gain real-world experience.
Blackwell starts every course with a speech that always ends with “Your success is my success.” He explains he does what he can for every student to give them the opportunity to succeed in a career as an HVAC worker. “I cannot create the real world,” he says. Hands-on experience complements the theory he teaches in the classroom. PTC offers internships in many specialized HVAC fields such as residential, commercial, industrial, geothermal, and refrigeration.
Last school year, the Heating and Air Conditioning program at PTC boasted a 66% job placement rate for its students, in part because of Blackwell’s encouragement of students to participate in internships. He says that about 80% of his students take advantage of internship opportunities, and that last year, every student in his class completed it. The Heating and Air Conditioning program also offers EPA and Industry Competency Exams certification for current professionals as well as students trying to break into the industry.
With Blackwell’s connections and PTC’s overall dedication to bringing the real, professional work of their courses as close to students as possible, odds are you can find a great career in the HVAC industry after you complete the course. Many students have gone on to use their internships to earn a contract working for a major company and to eventually make a large salary as a professional, full-time HVAC worker. Blackwell frequently invites these professionals who have gone through his program and taken advantage of the internship opportunities there to speak to his current students about how they reached high levels of success by taking advantage of the resources right here at PTC.
At Pickens Technical College, the Brand Ambassador Program teaches students how to use social media as a tool for finding jobs, improving their professional networks, and avoid common pitfalls that can ruin their job chances after graduating from PTC. 52% of all employers these days use social media to screen candidates for jobs. Actively managing your social media profiles on all platforms is now a requirement to getting your foot in the door in almost any industry.
Since PTC is all about preparing students for the real world, the world beyond the classroom, its leaders wanted to provide a new advantage to PTC students that will help them find the career they trained for. Social media management and proper engagement is a huge factor, now more than ever.
The Brand Ambassador Program is a class offered by volunteers from Encite International, a local Denver integrated marketing firm. Every year, a small group of students learn how to a) avoid losing job opportunities by posting smartly on social media outlets, and b) use social media to create a professional advantage for themselves.
But PTC students learn by doing, so several students, under the tutelage of digital marketing professionals, participate in managing PTC’s Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram accounts to draw more interest to the school and promote its brand on widely-used digital media. They are expected to promote the PTC brand using social media and reach more people utilizing the tools and concepts they learn from people like Adam O’Leary, the President of Encite International and an instructor in the Brand Ambassador program.
PTC student Chris Cooper won recognition for his work on social media on behalf of PTC in 2016. He was named the Brand Ambassador of the Year. Rylee Malle was runner up and Grace Roll was named third-best Brand Ambassador. In 2017, the program is back and better than ever, with students taking on a bigger role in social media—building real world experience and skills they can use in their careers beyond PTC in the process.
Managing social media for brands and businesses is a career-building skill that will translate into almost any marketing situation for companies. For students, building their own brand to find work after college is part of the path to a career. Cooper, Malle, Roll, and everyone else in the Brand Ambassador program got a head start in differentiating themselves from their competitors in the job market. With many employers reviewing hundreds of applications, resumes, and cover letters a day for some positions, having a strong social media presence is a huge advantage. It’s at least one reason to not throw an application in the trash.
So sign up for the Brand Ambassador program to learn about how to market yourself on social media the right way, how to draw more interest in a particular brand or business (a marketable skill), and how not to use social media when you’re looking for a job. Peer over the edge of graduation day and start helping yourself today.
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