By Lynda Lopez
He was not your typical student at Texas State Technical College. By the time Elliot Bermudez enrolled at TSTC in Waco a decade ago to get an associate degree, he had already earned two bachelor’s degrees from four-year universities.
The problem was he couldn’t get a job.
“I have a business degree in accounting, economics and business principles. I also have an electrical engineering degree from a university, but no one would hire me because I didn’t have experience,” explained Bermudez. “I was doing maintenance in apartments earning $25,000 a year just to get by.”
Bermudez’s wife knew he had more potential and pushed him to attend TSTC.
“I did a lot of research. I saw the number of students that got hired onto different jobs prior to graduating or right after graduation. I did my research and saw how much people were making,” he said.
Bermudez entered TSTC’s Industrial Engineering program and excelled. He was one of only two graduates in 2008 who could boast of a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. He credits his instructors and hands-on training for his academic success.
“Even though I had an electrical engineering degree, I had never had so much hands-on training as I had here. My experience was awesome,” said Bermudez.
That TSTC training paid off big for this Waco native. He completed an internship with Shell, was assigned a mentor, and was taught the oil business “from cradle to grave,” as they say in the business.
At the end of the internship he was interviewed by a panel of Shell administrators and tested for his knowledge. By the end of the session he was offered a job – and hired a week before graduation.
Today Bermudez works for Shell Offshore making a six-figure salary as a Senior Authorized Electrical Person.
“We have contractors from different companies that come and work. We prepare permits for them, work permits. But prior to that, we have to walk the job down, see all the hazards and put mitigations; we go out there with them and make sure that their job is safe,” he explained.
Bermudez speaks from experience when he urges future students to research two-year versus four-year degrees. As he points out, a bachelor’s degree isn’t for everyone.
“You can spend the amount of money you’re going to spend at TSTC for two years, or go to a four-year university and spend that same amount in one or two semesters. Make your choice wisely,” said Bermudez.