How a short-term training program from Oakland Community College gave Shawn McWilliams opportunity and a lucrative career. 

Like so many teenagers, Shawn McWilliams graduated high school without knowing what he wanted to do with his life. 

“I was told to go to a four-year college and get a degree to find a job,” says Shawn, who graduated from Avondale High School in 2019. “But I never really had a plan for what that meant.” 

After attending a local college for a few semesters, Shawn felt like he wasn’t finding the direction he needed. And that was when his mother showed him what would become a life-changing resource. 

“She told me about Michigan’s Economic Workforce Development Program and how you could train for the latest jobs at OCC. When she mentioned that I could learn about robotics in just a few months and possibly have a job waiting for me, I was hooked,” remembers Shawn. 

Hooked indeed, and for good reason. Shawn immediately applied for a 14-week short-term training course at Oakland Community College in robotics and PLC programming. Not only was he accepted, but he qualified for free tuition based on eligibility requirements through Michigan Works! And that was just the beginning. 

Shawn recalls, “There were so many things I loved about the program right away. For starters, the instructors all had real-world experience. Also, everything was completely hands on with very little book work. And I really loved how comprehensive everything was. I definitely felt prepared to get a job.” 

Beyond taking robots apart and putting them back together, Shawn learned about the various business opportunities available for someone in this cutting-edge field. This included programming robots in countless industries around the world such as aerospace and big pharma. 

Of course, for lifelong Michigan natives like Shawn, the ability to work in the Detroit metro area – the world’s epicenter of automotive automation – was just as appealing. 

“It was clear to me early on that I could use my new knowledge to work in any number of automotive jobs,” says Shawn. “So, you can imagine how excited I was to discover that I had some high-paying prospects right around the corner that were waiting for me when I finished.”

That’s right. After only one 14-week course – and with no previous experience – Shawn went from classroom to employment. He now works for GLOBAL Automation Technologies, LLC in Auburn Hills as an automation engineer where he programs computers for automating automotive assembly line processes. And he loves it. 

“This technology is so fascinating and there are so many interesting things going on,” Shawn says. 

And the best part? Shawn loves the fact he’s making more money than he thought possible. While most of his friends are taking student loans, Shawn hopes to make a six-figure salary within a few years. 

Shawn is also grateful to OCC for helping him to find a huge opportunity in a short amount of time. 

“The program quite literally turned my life around,” Shawn recalls. “If not for it, I have no idea what I would be doing today.” 

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