Student Lands Dream Job After OCC’s Short-term Training Program

Breia Roberts

Breia Roberts had worked a few jobs in retail and customer service and began taking classes at Oakland Community College in 2018. Then life happened for the young mother of two from Pontiac who quickly became busy raising a family. She admits she “lost direction a little” once she had children but was determined to start on a new career path, eventually.  
Roberts had taken some machinery classes in high school and remained interested in Computer Numerical Control (CNC). After doing some research, she found OCC’s five-week CNC Machine Operator training program. She said it was then that she realized it was a great opportunity and time to act on her dreams. Her goal was to advance her training through an apprenticeship program and ultimately work at Williams International.
Roberts got started at the Pontiac Michigan Works! office where she met Case Manager Ebony Robinson.  
“During the intake process, Breia and I talked about the CNC classes she took earlier and that she had to step out at one point,” said Robinson. "She had the self-awareness she needed to pause her career plans. The pandemic helped her grow and think more about what she needed long term.”  
Five weeks to success  
Roberts enrolled in OCC’s CNC training program in April 2023. The training covered basic machining topics required to land an entry-level machinist position quickly. She completed multiple CNC courses including measurement, materials and safety, job planning, milling and turning.  

“The instructor was really knowledgeable, and the class was very hands on. Our instructor also gave us context on what has changed in the machine and manufacturing field.”

Through hands-on CNC lab experience, Roberts earned five industry-recognized certifications, including three National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certifications that can be applied toward OCC credits, getting her closer to completing an associate degree or program certificate.

Roberts also picked up many of the soft skills needed for successful career placement. A professional career coach helped Roberts polish up her resume in class, and the program coordinator helped her prepare for interviews. At the end of the program, Roberts had an opportunity to tour four companies and interview with three prospective employers.  
“This program can help people really take the next steps they need for a career in this field,” explained Roberts.  
CNC positions are in high demand, and some of the region’s top employers include Aerotek, Ranstad, Sentech Services, Taledeco, and Williams International, according to research provided by the Workforce Intelligence Network. Many offer premium pay if the employee is on a second or third shift. CNC Machine Operators in Oakland County can anticipate earning between $18.05 and $33.32 per hour, with a median occupation wage of $24.12 per hour.

Job growth also shows stability, with a consistent number of workers in the occupation throughout the past decade, indicating steady growth. There is growth potential as individuals gain experience. Operators with experience can move into positions like Setup Machinist, CNC Tool Programmer, and more. CNC Tool Programmers, on average, can earn up to $21,700 more per year compared to their counterparts working as CNC Machine Operators.  
A little over a month after completing the training program, Roberts was hired by Williams International as a Deburr Tech. She credits OCC’s training program to help her land her dream job.  

“It doesn’t matter what spot in life you’re in,” she said. “Whether you have kids, went to college already, or you didn’t finish, take the opportunity while it is there and go for it!”  

Her career training – and dream – continues  
Roberts continues to thrive at Williams International after eight months on the job. Soon she’ll be visiting different areas of the plant and getting additional training by mentors as she builds a well-rounded perspective of the facility. She continues to credit OCC's short-term training program for preparing her for success, including the OSHA 10 safety training, which she says she uses daily.  
Roberts has also enrolled in OCC’s apprenticeship program and is taking additional classes this winter.  
“I really want to thank OCC for having programs like this,” she said. She credits OCC's training program for helping her land her dream job.  
Interested in Starting your Someday now? The next CNC Machine Operator training program starts April 2024. Contact Jessica Knapik at (248) 232-4527 or