A New Opportunity for Students to Get In the Fast Lane from Classroom to Jobs
Tesla makes electric cars. Now they’re on the verge of making careers for automotive technology and automotive management technology students at Farmingdale State College.
It’s what Tesla calls its classroom-to-job-pipeline, which is happening at schools in other parts of the country, and is just now being introduced in New York State.
“Tesla is working with schools that have strong automotive programs and are near current and future stores and service centers,” said a Tesla spokesperson. “The program introduced at Farmingdale State College will help students learn about electric vehicles and sustainable energy. As Tesla grows in New York, it is important that we build a strong pipeline of local talent excited by our mission.”
And the program excites the talent at Farmingdale, too.
“‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work,'” said Cihan Oner, a student in the auto tech program, quoting Thomas Edison. “This opportunity is not a job but my dream passion.”
Celine Zollinger, one of only three female students among more than 80 in the program, echoed Oner’s enthusiasm.
“This opportunity comes only once in a lifetime, and being part of Tesla would mean the world to me. It’s the future of the car industry, since electric cars are on the rise.”
How a partnership came together
This match made in automotive heaven began in spring 2017, when Tesla – impressed with FSC’s automotive curriculum – reached out to the College. Dr. Mohamad Zoghi, acting chair of the automotive technology department, led a team to a local Tesla facility (the carmaker is based in California), and a deal was struck. It was obvious that both entities would benefit from the partnership.
Students too, with internships that will place them in Tesla’s service center while completing their studies.
Once on board, they will go through a training regimen of online classes and shadow one of Tesla’s senior technicians. Interns will learn safety practices in place at the service center, followed by education on components and features of the cars, and the company’s processes for servicing them. Students will also be drilled on what Tesla calls “the exceptional service experience” it provides customers.
Once the students have graduated from FSC, and with a recommendation from their Tesla manager, they’re on the fast track to interview for a full-time job.
“This is a new paradigm for the automotive industry, and so we are excited that students at Farmingdale are going to have a head start learning about this technology and be ramped up and ready to start working as soon as they graduate,” Will Nicholas, senior policy manager at Tesla, said at the coming-out party for the program.
New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and State Senators Carl Marcellino and Tom Croci also attended the event, praising the initiative’s potential to benefit the Long Island economy and help put the brakes on the brain drain of Long Island college graduates, many of whom leave the Island because they can’t afford to live locally.
“The work that Tesla does here has changed the face of sustainability in our communities, and the company’s investments in local students will likely change our futures,” said Senator Flanagan.
Said Senator Croci: “I applaud Tesla, Farmingdale State College and my colleagues in government for supporting this movement for smart educational opportunities, environmentally conscious business development and diverse economic opportunities for Long Island.”
Tesla vehicles have dazzled with their sharp styling and innovative battery technology. Launched in 2008 with the Roadster, Tesla then went full bore into the premium category with the Model S. In 2015 the Model X SUV debuted, and this year the Tesla assembly line is cranking out the Model 3, its first effort in the low-priced market.
“Riding in a Tesla is an amazing experience,” said Hemwattie Hemchand, the other female auto tech student. “The first thing you notice is that it’s so quiet. All you hear is the wind blowing. Another thing you notice is the vehicle response. Flooring can put you back in your seat, and you realize what a fantastic vehicle it is.”
Tesla is also investing heavily in a charging infrastructure. It has installed more than 30 “Supercharger” stations in the state, which include multiple stalls. Nationwide it has given away more than 2,000 “Level 2” chargers, at locations such as hotels, parking garages, shopping centers and parks.
Now Tesla is looking to expand its footprint in the state. It wants to up its number of stores – currently only in metro New York and on Long Island – from five to 20, but first it needs legislative approval. Planned are locations in cities such as Albany and Buffalo. The company sees the state as a massive market.
Tesla is bullish about its future, and Farmingdale equally so. Says Dr. Zoghi: “This is certainly a positive step forward for the department. We are planning to develop a new academic program in electric vehicles. The FSC – Tesla agreement gives the department the boost to move forward with these plans. We’ll have the first academic program in electric-drive vehicles in the Northeast.”