There was no "Pomp and Circumstance," no caps or gowns. But the 15 women graduating from the Job Training Partnership's clerical skills program Wednesday night were as proud as any other graduates of their accomplishments.
"As we graduate and think back over the past three months, it's hard to believe the changes that have taken place over that short time," Doris A. Phillips told her fellow graduates from the program, sponsored by the partnership and Carroll Community College.
"We all had some self-doubt about our abilities, but the college made us feel welcome. We now have a sense of accomplishment and feel proud," she said.
Each student came to the classes as part of the Job Training Partnership Act's displaced workers program. All but two were former employees of Telemecanique, which transferred its offices from Finksburg to Owings Mills in December.
"This course was very helpful," said Ms. Phillips, 33, after the ceremony.
"I had some job skills from the job I had before, but I didn't have any computer skills," said the former Clinique counter manager at Macy's in Hunt Valley. "I used to look at the want ads and say, 'I can't do that.' Now I say, 'I can do any of these jobs.' "
The course -- 18 weeks, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. -- included business English, business math, office procedures, computer literacy, the Word Perfect computer program and human relations.
"They covered interpersonal skills needed on the job," Kathy Menasche, coordinator of continuing education for the college, said of the human relations portion of the course. "It helped them realize whothey are as people and how that relates to the work force."
Students spent one day a week for six weeks training at local agencies, such as the Carroll County Public Library, Carroll County General Hospital, Carroll County Circuit Court and Westminster's housing office.
About half of Wednesday's graduates have already found work, Ms. Menasche said.
"We have a good track record because we provide skills that people need in the workplace," she said. "The college tries to work closely with [the Job Training Partnership] to develop training programs that people have a desire for. We're always in a curriculum development phase."
Students with specific interests are given assignments to help them pursue related jobs, Ms. Menasche said.
For example, students interested in medical work are given spelling lists of medical terminology, and prospective legal clerks study the typing formats for briefs and other legal documents.
"We try to work individual desires into the training program," Ms. Menasche said.
More advanced students are encouraged to take additional courses that will meet their needs. Pauline A. Trichilo took a medical terminology course last fall, preparing her to be a receptionist for a dentist in Taneytown.
"It all paid off in the end," said Ms. Trichilo, who entered the program as a displaced Telemecanique employee. "I start work on Monday. It was a wonderful, intense and terrific course."
The program helped her remember a lot of skills she had not used since she was in school about 40 years ago, she said.
"If at my age I can do this, it is really an accomplishment," said Ms. Trichilo, 61.