Sherry Pinto, the FastFoward Career Coach at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC), spends her days helping people who want better careers.
“I had a guy come in last Friday who said he wanted a career and not a job,” said Pinto. “I think people are starting to get the message that we provide training to get you out of the job leading nowhere and into a new career that you can be excited about doing for the next 10 years and beyond.”
Pinto works with a wide variety of students but the bulk of LFCC’s FastFoward students are training for certifications in manufacturing, HVAC, welding, healthcare and the growing field of heavy equipment operation.
She is present in the classrooms on the first night the programs begin to let the students know she is available and ready to help them find a new career.
Resume building, interview preparation and moral support are important services Pinto provides. However, another major driving force to ensure students persist through the training is the promise of a guaranteed interview once they complete.
“People are entering our training programs and want to do well because they have a guaranteed interview,” said Pinto. “Employers are willing to come interview because they know our programs produce good candidates.”
Manufacturing Technician Level 1 was the first program at LFCC to offer guaranteed interviews. Once the students earn the credential, they participate in an interview where they sit across from a local HR hiring director. The majority of students will get a second interview and some have even received job offers at the first meeting.
Employers are anxious to get students hired but Pinto’s number one priority is for the students to earn their credential first. Guaranteed interviews recently expanded to the heavy equipment operator program and will continue to grow and include other high demand professions.
“I think the message is really starting to resonate that a traditional four year college isn’t for everyone and if by chance you weren’t successful at college the first go-round, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good career. You can take FastForward training to start, enhance or change your career.”