CIMM program launches student's new career
Jennifer Webb made a tough decision in 2013 that many likely wouldn't make. After working in the call center for Citigroup for 13 years, the company gave her two options when it downsized: Work from home, or be laid off.
While many people would see that as a negative, Webb saw an opportunity.
"I was ready for something different," she said. "I had a chance to do something completely different, and I didn't want to stay at home all day."
After meeting with an admissions representative at Metropolitan Community College, Webb, 42, was intrigued by the Computer Integrated Machining and Manufacturing (CIMM) program.
"I went home and watched a couple of YouTube videos about machining and decided, 'Yes that was something I was interested in,'" she said. "I went to the college and talked to an adviser, and she made it so easy for me. She helped me pick my classes, and I was done within an hour."
Webb started the CIMM program in fall 2013, training on lathe and computer numerical control machines before interning with Great Western Manufacturing at the end of the semester.
Each student in the CIMM program can participate in a paid internship as long as they have a "C" or higher grade and good attendance. Many of the students work full-time for the company they intern with after completing their job-ready, one-semester certificate.
That was the case for Webb, who went from MCC-Business & Technology to Great Western, where she became the first woman machinist in the company's shop.
"I see that as a great honor, to be the first woman who worked in the shop," she said. "The guys received me very well and treated me very respectfully, like they would their mom or sister. And we've had more women work in the shop since then, so I kind of feel like a trend-setter, which is nice."
Webb wasn't finished learning, either. After working a day shift at Great Western, she attended night classes on the Business & Technology campus, pursuing an associate of applied science in industrial electrical. She completed the degree during the spring 2017 semester.
"Jennifer's story is a wonderful example of how our students can build their credentials and become valuable assets in the workforce," said Dr. Jackie Gill, president of MCC-Business & Technology. "By obtaining skills in multiple disciplines, she has positioned herself for a rewarding career in a variety of in-demand fields."
After working in the machine shop at Great Western for two years, Webb moved up to the engineering office, where she programs machines and works on drawings.
"I wanted to learn about wiring and motors, as well as motor control, so I studied industrial electrical at MCC," she said. "Great Western has been great to me. They reimbursed me for my tuition and books and have been very supportive."
"I've had a great experience at MCC-Business & Technology. I've had such smart, good teachers. I'm so grateful for instructors and cared and helped along the way."
Webb plans to continue advancing her education, first by taking courses for photovoltaics, then classes in computer science. She hopes her success in the trades serves as an example to women, including her 18-year-old daughter.
"I hope more women will consider the trades. I think every women who walks into a college office should see what opportunities are available to them, and not just in fields that are traditionally seen as fields for women," Webb said. "I've always been mechanically inclined, and I knew that I could do this. If I can do this, there's no reason other women can't."
MCC-BT helps student transition from Army to career in machining
When Jeff Adams enlisted in the Army, the plan was to study computers and build a career in that field. Little did he know that he'd be doing something completely different several years later.
"After I went into the Army and served in the infantry, I learned that I couldn't stand sitting behind a desk all the time," said Adams, a native of Nebraska who achieved the rank of specialist in the Army. "I started looking into other careers and realized I wanted to work with my hands."
Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology proved to be the perfect fit when Adams enrolled in the Computer Integrated Machining and Manufacturing (CIMM) program for the spring 2015 semester.
He signed up for the program partly because his aunt, former CIMM instructor Cindy Adams, said he should look into the machining field.
"My aunt was integral in me going to school here and doing well," he said. "She let me stay with her when I was getting on my feet while I was going to school. It worked out extremely well."
Under the guidance of his aunt and program coordinator David Grady, Adams excelled in CIMM, earning a mill certificate and completing a paid internship with Ultrasource.
Students in the CIMM program have an opportunity to complete a paid internship with one of nearly 50 companies in a consortium. They are paid $12.50 to $13.50 an hour, as long as the have a "C" or higher grade and good attendance.
"How great a deal is it that as part of the class you are getting actual job experience and getting paid for it?" Jeff Adams said. "In a lot of internships, you are working for free. That fact that you have a program in which you can get an internship making more than minimum wage and have a job when you're done with school is great."
After Adams, 27, received his certificate, he worked with Tatia Shelton, career services coordinator at MCC-Business & Technology, to polish his resume and find a company with which to begin his career.
In a matter of weeks, he was working as a tool and die apprentice at WestRock in Grandview, Missouri.
"Tatia knows her stuff," he said. "I didn't realize just how important a resume was, and I really believe with her help my resume got me through that door."
At WestRock, Adams maintains and repairs injection blow molds. He plans to complete his apprenticeship in four years and become a toolmaker.
Adams also received a lathe certificate in the CIMM program and will pursue an advanced CIMM certificate during the fall 2016 semester.
"This is a good program and a good experience that anybody can benefit from," he said. "People don't think about these kinds of jobs, but they are always going to be here. People are always going to need the parts we make, and the companies will always need somebody to work on the machines."