Shelley Rainey says she found it stretching out in front of her just about everywhere she turned at Stark State College – even all the way to New Mexico where she landed a job with Sandia National Laboratories.
When she logged a 4.0 GPA in earning a certificate from Stark State’s CNC program in 1998, it was an introduction that whetted her appetite for a technical career.
“It was a phenomenal program, but when I was sweating in a machine shop on second shift, I thought there is more I could do. I wanted a full-blown engineering degree,” she said. “When I got back to Stark State I became a sponge, soaking up as much information as possible, as fast as I could, because there’s so much I wanted to learn.”
After graduating with an associate degree in mechanical engineering and an advanced AutoCAD certificate, her future looked brighter still. Stark State’s student services sent her to the SSC Career Development Office, and things began to click. Shelley subsequently met with recruiters from Sandia, a company with 35 Stark State alumni currently employed at the premier science and engineering laboratory for national security and technology innovation.
“They said they were impressed with my GPA and my determination,” said Shelley, who completed a mechanical drafting internship in the company’s New Mexico headquarters. “It was a very positive experience. I met incredible people and it amazed me they were willing to invest in me. I know Sandia only hires the best of the best, so the internship was an enormous opportunity to be involved in. It showed me all the possibilities the company has to offer.” The experience also resulted in a full-time job for her at Sandia.
“I found you have to try all your avenues and have the strength not to give up,” Shelley said. “I learned it’s OK to not know all the answers, as long as you can figure out where to find them.”
Stark State, Shelley said, has been key in many ways on her journey. “Not only was it close to home, the professors are the kindest and most personable people. It’s reasonably priced and there are lots of connections to help you; they pointed me to the right places to get help.” The Career Development Office, she said, was especially valuable. “They helped me tremendously with getting ready for my internship with Sandia. In fact, they were very helpful from the beginning.
“The fact that companies as far away as New Mexico are seeking out Stark State students says they’re turning out quality graduates and shows me I was in a great place getting my education. Stark State made it not only easy to do, but made me feel good about myself. I credit everyone along the way for helping me – instructors, staff, fellow students.
“The whole environment is a good experience. They really want you to succeed.”