When Jennifer Gilbert was ready for her “What’s next?” after five years in the Navy, she applied to Oceaneering, Inc., an advanced applied technology company based in Chesapeake.
While she didn’t have the background to earn a position outright, the former machinist’s mate was referred to the company’s apprenticeship program with Tidewater Community College.
“Why not? I’ll give it a shot,” she decided.
Four years later, she is among the first class of apprentices graduating from the company’s marine services division. She and her seven classmates experienced coursework and hands-on work in areas that included welding, inside and outside machinery, pipefitting, shipfitting and industrial engineering.
As part of the program, she completed at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 576 hours of classroom instruction, learning everything from blueprint reading to hydraulics to technical writing, mathematics, safety and teamwork.
As an apprentice, Gilbert was mentored and supervised by highly qualified personnel within the company and received wage increases that corresponded with her mastering new skills.
Gilbert and her classmates each earned a Journeyman’s Certificate from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and a Certificate in Maritime Technologies from TCC.
Today she works as a Planner II at Oceaneering, a position that involves writing sets of instructions for the mechanics who work on the flight deck.
The apprenticeship allowed Gilbert to “earn while she learned” with the guarantee of full-time employment waiting after graduation. She particularly appreciated the flexibility of the academic portion at TCC, she said.
With her husband deployed and the addition of a second child, Gilbert initially wasn’t sure how she would juggle all the demands.
Being able to complete some classes online was an unexpected benefit. “TCC and the instructors made it extremely easy and flexible,” Gilbert said.
Employers and students interested in apprenticeship opportunities can contact TCC’s Apprenticeship Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.