LePreece Thomas was in her late 30s and feeling unfulfilled in her corporate career when she began to consider a change.
“I felt I had to do something,” she says. “I was tired of being stuck on a corporate ladder for decades and going nowhere.”
Through her daughter’s involvement in a NASA Pipeline program, Thomas was exposed to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and began to develop an interest.
“I took her to events, helped her with projects, and was generally involved and in the know,” she says. “I thought the science and engineering field was fascinating.”
So she decided to go back to school, earn an associate degree in applied science — paired with mechanical engineering — and pursue a career in STEM. She worked hard, taking a maximum class load while working full time, and then she reached the point of having to secure an internship to graduate.
“I needed to find an internship opportunity, so I went to LCCC’s Career Services for help,” Thomas says. “They were amazing.”
Finding her way
Career Services offers a full spectrum of services for students and community members who need help with resume development, interviewing skills, networking and setting up informational interviews.
“We offer workshops and one-on-one coaching free of charge to anyone,” says Marcia Jones, Career Services manager. “As the ‘community’s college,’ we want to help everyone achieve their goals.”
Thomas says Career Services told her about the annual fall Internship Fair, connected her with a company that would be there and coached her on interviewing.
“I was so nervous, but glad to have their guidance on how to sell myself,” Thomas says.
Jones says working with Career Services can help people gain confidence in themselves.
“A large part of what we do is helping people feel encouraged, find a place to start and figure out the skills they need to polish,” says Jones. “Once they get out there, they realize that they have more than they thought they did.”
Thomas says that was certainly true for her. At the Internship Fair, she talked with someone from Mainthia Technologies Inc., a contractor at NASA. The representative was impressed with how Thomas was able to connect what she had learned in the classroom with what the company was looking for in an intern. She got the internship. And then she got more.
At the end of Thomas’ internship, Mainthia Technologies offered her a full-time position as a project coordinator for CROM (cryogenics and operations management). She started her new career just weeks after her May graduation.
“I’m so grateful to LCCC, I can’t say it enough,” she says. “I started in spring of 2015, worked straight through until now, and I have a brand new exciting career to show for it.”