Accelerate Helps Student Initiate Second Career

Gerard Martinez had been on and off unemployment and without full-time work for over three years when he heard about the Accelerate program.  That introduction came at a group meeting of age 50+ displaced workers sponsored by the Workforce Investment Act and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

Martinez had been thinking about going back to college to pursue a new career, but feared he wouldn’t be able to complete the math requirements.  When he heard that the Accelerate program offered a “Math Boot Camp” to help students get through remedial math courses, he enrolled in Santa Fe Community College and simultaneously joined the Accelerate program.

The Technical Training and Job Placement program, known as Accelerate, focuses on transitional workers with retraining needs and non-traditional students enrolled in technical certificate and 2-year degree programs.  Accelerate offers an innovative approach to increase technical degree completion, professional readiness, and job placement.

Like many of the students in the Accelerate program, Martinez already had career, but was laid off and had a difficult time finding full-time work in his field of expertise.  In the fall of 2011, Martinez made the decision to go back to school and pursue opportunities in a field more relevant to today’s job market.

Today, Martinez continues in the Accelerate program while pursuing his Associates in Applied Science in Sustainable Technologies.  He has already obtained certificates in OHSA 10, Biodiesel Production, Biomass/Biogas Production, Solar Heating – and he’s made the Dean’s List.

Martinez says his favorite parts of the program are working one on one with an Accelerate Career Technical Advisor (CTA) and the Internship program.  CTAs pro-actively touch base with students to make sure they are progressing and to help them with problem solving on issues that could impact school work.

Martinez says his wife and family have been his greatest support and inspiration for his studies and new career path.  He also credits his CTA with providing him with up to date information on resumes and cover letters and an understanding of the value of networking.  According to Martinez, “My CTA taught me a lot about interviewing and gave me the up to date knowledge on professional readiness skills that I lacked.  Today I feel much more confident about pursuing work in a new field”.

In the winter of 2012, Martinez was awarded an internship through Accelerate with the Solar Department at Santa Fe Community College.   He is working with the NM Solar Energy Association to put on a solar fair that would feature potential employers in the area.

“I would absolutely recommend that students take advantage of an internship opportunity,” he says.  “Internships help you stay involved in your field and the experience you gain looks good on your resume.  Even though I was successful in the past and had excellent references, that experience is no longer relevant and the work I did during my internship provided references in my new field of study.  It also gave me the opportunity to meet leaders I can count on to support my career goals”.

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