A graduation ceremony honoring the most recent graduates from Stony Brook University’s Corporate Education and Training (CET) Transitional Professional Certificate Program was held at the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology at Stony Brook University on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. CET awarded 75 students certificates in Project Management. But not all graduates were able to attend the celebration — many of them had already started jobs in their new fields.
“Thank you for the invitation to the graduation ceremony. I will, however, not be able to attend. I have recently started a full-time position as a project manager at North Shore LIJ,” said Bruce Cohn, who completed the program in April. “I know that this opportunity is a direct result of your program and the preparation I received for the PMP exam.”
Graduate Deborah McComb is also unavailable because of her new job as a full-time senior consultant for Kurtzman Carson Consultants. “Even with my extensive work in project management, the CET program through Stony Brook University provided me with so much additional insight into the planning, implementation and execution of projects. Even with many years of experience, the knowledge of properly executing a project, which I learned through the PMP course, was invaluable.”
In addition to the ceremony, students attended an executive round table with CET’s industry partners as well as a networking session. They also heard words of encouragement from two special guest speakers: Sammy Chu, Deputy County Executive for Operations for Suffolk County and Commissioner of the County’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs, and Alan Z. Fromm, the Chief Learning Officer at Amneal Pharmaceuticals, a leading manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals headquartered in Hauppauge, New York.
As Commissioner, Chu oversees the operation of various support and training programs for transitional workers. He also serves as the Chairman of the Long Island chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and as a Director of the National Home Performance Council. He was able to share his views on the job market in Suffolk County and what his office does to help those changing careers later in life.
Prior to joining Amneal, Fromm faced what many CET students have faced: he lost his job due to the financial fallout and had a long road back to employment. He was featured in the award-winning HBO documentary, Hard Times: Lost on Long Island. The film follows the story of the long-term unemployed and the shrinking of the middle class by chronicling the lives of four Long Island families dealing with long-term unemployment. Hard Times was nominated for a 2013 Emmy Award in the News and Documentary category.
Fromm shared his experiences after losing his job and what it took for him to get back on his feet. “The hardest thing for the long-term (or ‘mature’) unemployed to come to grips with is that it is not your fault that you are out of work. The recession was supposed to have ended in 2009, but what we need to see is that for 25 million unemployed and underemployed Americans the fallout continues still,” Fromm explained. “These graduates have taken a big step…they’ve reinvented themselves, and with their life experiences, their ‘former’ job skills, and their newly-acquired skills, they are in a very good position to get back into the workforce. They’ve taken a very difficult step, and they should be proud of their accomplishments.”
The graduates then joined the guest speakers at an executive round table, where business leaders shared their views on the current job market. Following that session, graduates networked with representatives from Telephonics, Estee Lauder, Data Device Corporation, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Dayton T. Brown, Sanna Matson McLeod, Parker Aerospace, Curtis Wright and IJ White Systems, among others.
Stony Brook was one of the first academic institutions nationally to respond to the Wall Street crisis, where many experienced workers lost their jobs and found themselves with nowhere to turn. Through the CET program more than 1,100 dislocated professionals have been trained to take on new careers. The program has a nearly 50 percent placement rate, surpassing the national average.
“Transitional professionals possess rich, deep and diverse work experiences and are faced with the extremely challenging task of reentering an uncertain workplace,” said CET Executive Director Patricia Malone. “We are most appreciative to the workforce, business and economic partners who have given their time and expertise to support us in creating a program that offers a beacon of hope, possibility and connectivity to employment opportunities.”
— Shelley Catalano