Two TCAT students say they are employed because the college helped them find jobs before they even graduated, part of a growing trend by educators and businesses to recruit students for high-demand technical jobs.

Kipp Compton said he is enrolled in a co-op that allows him to work at Network Technology Partners LLC in Smyrna. He checks in occasionally with Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Murfreesboro and updates them on his studies. His projected graduation date is next spring.

Compton, 27, said he is still taking classes even though he doesn’t visit the school often. He is still earning certifications in information technology and infrastructure management.

Compton said he started working with Network Technology Partners after his instructor reached out to the company on his behalf to help him find a job shadowing or internship opportunity. He began training there a couple of days a week and eventually was offered a job.

Regarding his new company, Compton said, “Everybody was really nice. I didn’t want to feel like a burden, sitting around, potentially getting in everyone’s way. I got to see everything I had been reading about put into action. I feel that alone was priceless.”

Now, the Gallatin resident said he has gone from delivering pizzas to helping area businesses solve IT issues and providing a better life for himself and his daughter.

Trace Pomeroy, of Murfreesboro, is another TCAT student who said he’s starting a new career while still in school. He plans to graduate later this month from the machine tool technology program.

Pomeroy, 21, said he is working at Moeller Precision Tool in Antioch. He said that although he may not stay at the company after graduation, he appreciates TCAT helping him find the job and gaining practical experience.

The Stewarts Creek High School graduate said he enjoys being able to create almost anything he can think of in his industry. For example, he enjoys writing programs for a milling machine. Stewarts Creek didn’t have a machine tool program, so he started at “ground zero” at TCAT, he said.

Pomeroy said he previously attended another area college – he didn’t enjoy the classroom setting -- and then transferred to TCAT.

“I fit like a glove here at TCAT,” he said.

Pomeroy said he offers three pieces of advice for students interested in machine tool technology — brush up on trigonometry, stay focused and don’t get too far behind.

“It’s very easy to get distracted,” he said. “TCAT teaches how to stay focused on the job and what’s important.”

Education and business leaders have pushed for more co-op and internship experiences at both the high school and college levels. Also, TCAT, like other colleges, offers dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students to gain college credit while still attending high school.

Whether it’s college or high school, there is a need for more technology training programs, said Beth Duffield, senior vice president for education and workforce development at the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce, which operates the Rutherford Works program.

The chamber works closely with Rutherford County Schools to find internships and co-op opportunities for rising seniors, Duffield said. They hold a hiring event every April for rising high school seniors to get into high-demand jobs from construction to healthcare to information technology.

High schools and colleges like TCAT and Motlow State Community College have embraced the Tennessee Promise program that, in certain cases, provides two years of college tuition to graduating high school students. This year’s high school Class of 2020 will have to apply for the program by Nov. 1, according to tnAchieves, which runs the program in Rutherford County.

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