A group of graduates stands outside the Marion Palace Theatre for graduation. They are wearing MTC sunglasses.

(Marion) A total of 346 students graduated from Marion Technical College on May 12 with a degree or a certificate at the Marion Palace Theatre. This is the largest number awarded in the last five years and a 10 percent increase over 2017.

“These students showed dedication and perseverance to get to their next degree,” said Dr. Ryan McCall, President of MTC. “I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish next.”

These graduates range in age from 18 to 63 years of age and come from 20 Ohio counties as well as other states. They include 21 veterans and three College Credit Plus students who graduated with an associate’s degree before graduating from high school. Through the College Credit Plus program, high school students attend college at no cost to them.

“It is phenomenal that these students are graduating with a college degree and no debt,” McCall stated. “In addition, more than 800 other high school students earned free college credit this year.”

Keynote speaker John Metcalf, an MTC graduate who is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative, encouraged graduates to embrace life-long learning. While he uses the engineering and computer skills he gained at MTC every day, soft skills are just as important.

“Embracing change, taking responsibility, and building relationships are three core reasons for professional success,” Metcalf shared. “Be quick to take blame, slow to take credit, and always take responsibility.”

Student speaker B. Wetare Makilagi graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. He was the top student in the sonography program. This nontraditional Marion resident earned his degree while working and raising his son.

Makilagi’s parents valued education. Makilagi’s father died as he was starting college. The MTC graduation fell on his father’s birthday.

This immigrant from Tanzania credits many people for helping him balance his education, his job, and his family demands. This includes managers who accommodated his class schedule, fellow students who pushed him to succeed, and the program director, Deb Myers, who encouraged him and challenged him.

Student speaker B. Wetare Makilagi congratulates the class of 2018.
Student speaker B. Wetare Makilagi congratulates the class of 2018.

As an African immigrant and one of the first male students in the sonography program, Makilagi encouraged students to reach out to others who are different. “Look beyond accents, skin colors, and differences to find the similarities we all share,” Makilagi said. “Speak out on issues that may not affect you directly, but may affect your neighbor next door.”

Makilagi and the entire graduating class of sonography has already landed employment.

The degrees were presented by members of the Marion Technical College Board of Trustees and the college deans in front of a packed house at the Marion Palace Theatre.

Students were treated to a catered dinner courtesy of the MTC Alumni Association following rehearsal.

As the speaker at MTC’s upcoming graduation, MTC graduate John Metcalf, President and CEO of the Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative has some advice for the 250 students as they start or advance their careers.

1. Internships are excellent! Take advantage of them. You can get your foot in the door, see what a business is like, gain experience, and make professional contacts.

2. Do your homework about a potential employer.

John Metcalf at desk“The first mistake they make is to know nothing about the company they are applying with. I’m always just floored,” Metcalf said. “Almost every company has a web presence. Just Google them. The lack of homework shows when the interviewers find out you have spent zero effort learning about the company.”

By contrast, doing a little research can definitely give you an edge.

“The job candidates who ‘wow’ me are the people who put in the effort to learn about the company and what you do. They impress me off the bat!”

3. Prepare for your interview.

“Think through what you want to discuss. Keep good eye contact. Have a professional conversation,” Metcalf said. “I think we’re on our phones too much, to tell you the truth.”

4. Have another person review your resume.

“I went through some resumes this morning. They spell my company’s name wrong or misrepresent it. I see that quite often. It’s frustrating,” Metcalf shared.

5. Keep your resume to one page.

“Resumes that are seven to eight pages are too long. Say the facts but don’t get too wordy with it. Leave that for the interview! I don’t want to have to decipher the resume to figure out what they know and what they don’t know,” Metcalf stated. “Keep it short and sweet – one page plus a cover letter. That’s what I like to see.”

6. Make sure you look polished at a job fair or an interview.

“We expect people to look professional. That’s a game changer. If you walk in looking unkempt, that’s a sign,” Metcalf stated. “Invest in some dress shoes and slacks.”

What about job seekers with piercings and tattoos? “We’ve had to go into uncharted water with body piercings and tattoos. It depends on the industry you are applying for and what the business and their customers expect,” Metcalf said. “If you have them, cover them up for your interview.”

7. Your first interview may be when you walk in the door to hand in a resume or application or to ask about an opening.

“Be prepared for an impromptu interview when you’re handing your resume in. Make a good first impression!” Metcalf advised.

8. The interview is about more than just your skills.

“Soft skills are huge. How do you relate to people? How do you interact? Can you work as a team or are you more independent? We look at each candidate to see what is the best fit.” Metcalf shared. “Are they trainable? What kind of attitude do they have for learning?”

9. Be flexible.

“In the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of candidates expecting the employer to work around the employee’s schedule. You have to be willing to take what’s involved with scheduling.”

10. Never stop learning, even after you land a job.

“As my career changed, I kept going back for more education that matched my career,” Metcalf shared. “Technology changes at different paces. It’s really driving the change. We highly encourage our employees to take advantage of continuing education.”

MTC’s Office of Career Services is available to help students and graduates update resumes, create cover letters, practice interview skills, and post their jobs online. For more, call Shannon Niedzwicki at 740-386-4176 or email niedzwickis@mtc.edu.