Students adjust course with Seminole State’s Rapid Skills program
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Written by: Emily Hollingshead
Photo: COVID-19 interrupted both Margaret "Peggy" Bittikofer's (left) and Jessica Amann's plans for their careers, but with the help of Seminole State's Rapid Skills program, they were able to adapt and change course to find success during the pandemic.
If 2020 showed us anything, it is that adaptability is not only a skill but a necessity. Many in Florida have found that they need to adjust their plans for the future, and some have found that their course has been derailed entirely. Through the Seminole State College of Florida Rapid Skills program, which provides funding and training to help students get on track for a career in a high-demand field in 18 weeks or less, these Florida residents have found a way to change course, learn new skills and re-envision their path to success!
Margaret “Peggy” Bittikofer
Margaret “Peggy” Bittikofer has always had a service mentality, partially inspired by growing up hearing stories of her grandfather who was a corporal in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. She began working in a grocery store at the age of 17 and had been steadily working toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. However, when COVID-19 affected her hours at work and forced her university’s program online, Bittikofer made a change and enrolled in Seminole State’s Law Enforcement Academy.
I’ve just gained such a passion for law enforcement. All the knowledge I’ve been gaining has been extremely beneficial to me.Margaret "Peggy" Bittikofer.
Through the Rapid Skills program at the College and sponsorship from the Winter Springs Police Department, Bittikofer is jumpstarting her career in public safety. “I like to be as planned out as I can be and the academy is exactly that,” she said. “I’ve just gained such a passion for law enforcement. All the knowledge I’ve been gaining has been extremely beneficial to me.” Following her successful completion of the academy, she will join the Winter Springs Police Department and continue to work toward her bachelor’s degree.
For those who have found themselves unsure what steps to take next due to the pandemic, Bittikofer recommends pursuing your interests. “If you feel that in your heart you have a passion for one thing, then just go for it and the worst that can happen is that you find out that it is not for you,” she said, “then there are a million other things that you can do.”
In Florida, the tourism industry has experienced a financial hit they have never known. As the pandemic forced the usual deluge of visitors down to a trickle, it was the hospitality and entertainment industry workers who felt the effects. Jessica Amann was one of the many talented professionals who were laid off due to the financial loss of their industry. While Amann searched for a new role, she was determined to keep making progress and enrolled in the Rapid Skills program in the Associate Project Management Certificate to upskill.
I gained more knowledge, which is something that can never be taken from meJessica Amann.
“The Rapid Skills program served as a resume filler yes, but it also kept me career focused,” said Amann. “It gave me something to look forward to, and it expanded my mind while I was unemployed.” While she was considering the project management certificate prior to being laid off, when her former supervisor told her that she could now take the course through a state grant, Amann jumped at the chance. Through the certificate, Amann saw that she already had a strong background in project management through her work experience, but learned important skills in managing different personalities for project success and project planning. Amann said, “I gained more knowledge, which is something that can never be taken from me.”
She is on track to start the new year off strong with a new job in January with a property management company based in Maitland. While Amann was successful in her job search, she knows how stressful it can be and how much time it can consume. For those who have been laid off due to the pandemic, she encourages them to stay positive. “Remind yourself that you are worthy. You have transferrable skills, and you just need to learn how to market them,” she said.
Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu
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