Second year of tours for Classroom to Careers program gives students ideas on careers after high school, right here at home.
After stretching blue protective slippers over their shoes, students walked down the ramp and onto a $4 million boat, wide-eyed and in disbelief. The 40 students from Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas high schools weren’t shopping for luxury boats, they were shopping for careers.
Sea Ray Boats invited the students on an extensive tour of the facility on Roberts Road so they could show them the vast career opportunities at the plant.
Most of the Sea Ray tour guides had graduated from high schools in Flagler and Putnam counties.
Luke Robbins and Keith Santana took one group, which included director of student services Lynette Shott, through the plant, up and down metal stairs, and past dozens of luxury boats, to show them how they were assembled from the hull up.
Santana pointed to two diesel tanks on one boat and asked how many gallons the students thought they held. No one guessed 250 gallons each. The $4 million boat had tanks that held nearly 500 gallons each.
Robbins, a life-long Flagler School district student, graduated from FPC in 2002. He spoke about going into construction after high school, a good job until 2008 when the housing industry came to a standstill.
His employment at Sea Ray started out uncertain, but his path was another bit of knowledge for students in any career.
“I worked as a lamination technician at Sea Ray for a couple of months in 2008 and got laid off, and hired back the next Monday, then I got laid off again,” Robbins said.
After a year-long stint at the Daytona International Speedway Robbins got a call from Sea Ray asking if he would like to come back. In January 2010 he did, and he’s been there ever since, and loving it. Robbins did say he wished he had done more goal setting and focused on career paths when he was in high school.
“It’s important to work hard and don’t burn your bridges,” Robbins said. “This is a good job with a local employer, building other people’s dreams. It’s a new challenge every day.”
Shott said this was the second of three career tours for the Classroom to Careers Initiative. The first was at Florida Hospital Flagler, and plans are being made with the hospitality industry in The Hammock for the third tour. Students don’t go on every tour; they decide which career field would most interest them with their counselors’ input.
“We are also scheduling eight smaller groups for the Intern of the Day program where they shadow people at their jobs,” Shott said. “We worked with the Chamber of Commerce and the Young Professionals Group on the pilot program last year.”
The programs are intended to build awareness about the wide assortment of careers that include not only the construction of the boats, but also finance human resources and even captaining a boat. Robbins and Santana talked about opportunities to be the captain on a boat owned by someone else. They agreed it was a great way to see the world in style and get paid to do it, but that it also came with responsibility, not only for the boat, but also for things like the boat’s wake and not damaging property.
“I like to put people where they belong,” Santana said. “I find out what talents they have and I put them there, and they’re successful.”
Shott followed up the statement by telling the students to look for that attitude in any employer.
“Whatever career you get, look for an employer that is interested in investing themselves in you,” she said.