The pens were poised as dozens of high school seniors participated in signing days, a time typically reserved for seniors accepting athletic scholarships.
These weren’t your typical signing days. The students holding the pens weren’t star athletes promising allegiance to a far-flung university. They were students who were accepting job offers from local businesses.
Plant City High School senior Alyssa Hubbard, who accepted a position with BayCare as a nurse’s helper, always had her sights set on a career in the healthcare industry. “Ever since my grandpa passed from cancer, it’s been my dream,” she said.
During her high school years, she took several healthcare classes, earning several certifications, including Basic Life Saving (BLS) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA).
After a lengthy interview process, she was offered the position which she readily accepted. “I was thrilled, I’m very excited to get my foot in the door,” she said. Hubbard won’t have a long break between graduation and her first day on the job on June 5. She also plans to attend USF.
BayCare Director of Talent Acquisition Angel Brown said they’re just as excited to have Hubbard joining the team. “We’re excited to help people in their career path,” she said. “We’ll build upon those skills she’s learned and support her as she grows with us, as fast as she wants to grow.”
In addition to Hubbard, six other Plant City High seniors accepted four-year apprenticeships to become electricians.
Nolan Buckingham took several Electricity classes while in school and quickly realized he enjoyed learning how to wire panels, boxes and lights. “To me, it’s fun and you need to enjoy your career,” he said. “It’s also good money.”
For Electricity teacher Fernando Guillen, seeing his students get excited about the things they were learning in his class was fulfilling. “The electrical field is so broad,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of these students, they’re on their way to having an excellent career where you’ll be able to provide for your families.”
Principal Susan Sullivan said the program gives kids hope for their future and a pathway to be able to live, work and play in the community. “They’re moving into careers where they’ll have benefits, be able to further their education and have long-term plans,” she said. “It’s exciting for us because they’re going to be successful, to have a job before they graduate is amazing.”
Simmons Career Academy senior Josiah Garcia accepted a job at Consolidated Pest Control. At school he earned his Landscape Maintenance and Agriculture Technology certifications. “I like working outside, I like wildlife, I like using insecticides, so why not work for a company like Consolidated,” he said. “I couldn’t work in an office and this fits me perfectly.”
Consolidated Pest Control owner Jai Buttram looks forward to Garcia and senior Mitchell McClamma, whom he hired on signing day, joining his company. “The good part is they’ve gone through some training and they’ve realized they like working outside and they like working with green things,” he said. “My hope is the energy and time won’t be wasted because they already know they at least enjoy something about the field and that’s a big advantage.”
Future Career Academy CEO Yvonne Fry said the students attending the signing days are just a few of the students who will ultimately be hired for jobs with local businesses. “We’re celebrating our very early returns on student successes in jobs and training opportunities all across the county,” she said. “The bulk of our hirings come after graduation just due to the logistics involved on both sides.”
She said the signing events show other students that the opportunities available to them are real and can happen to them as well. “It’s a scary time of change for our seniors and we want to help ensure they know what’s possible for their future- there are many opportunities and they can make it happen for themselves given the preparation and connections they’ve made,” she said.