MVCC’s FastTrack program kickstarts a new and better career

ROME/UTICA — Mohawk Valley Community College’s new FastTrack Career Program offers a new paradigm for unemployed people who may feel trapped in a low-paying, dead-end job, said Timothy Thomas, assistant vice president for learning and academic affairs at MVCC.

The FastTrack program offers an accelerated curriculum where a person working to support a family does not have to take two or more years out of their life to rebuild for a new job for the traditionally required college education.

“In 14 weeks or less, this can lead directly to a new career path,” Thomas said. “And it’s all free.”

Thomas said the FastTrack Career Program began in late November 2022 after MVCC received $500,000 in seed funding for the program from Oneida County. MVCC recognized that the program wouldn’t last long with that funding, so they began looking to other sources of revenue to continue offering FastTrack classes for free, Thomas said.

They also recently received $976,000 in Empire State Development funding to support FastTrack students in new careers.

They already have 237 students enrolled in the FastTrack program, he said, and they are already reaching a population that was not being served. Unlike the 25 percent of students in typical college courses who are 25 or older, 72 percent of FastTrack students are older. And where 11 percent of their traditional student body identifies as Black, they now serve 34 percent of the population, Thomas said.

There are now 35 FastTrack short-term credit and non-credit courses, all held at night on the Utica campus, so students can keep their day jobs while improving themselves.

FastTrack job skills currently available include education and professional services, emergency services, health, information technology, manufacturing, skilled trades and culinary services. Some of the most popular courses so far have been medical billing and coding, phlebotomy and paralegals, Thomas said.

They recently partnered with the Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency to create resumes for FastTrack students to new teaching positions. Thomas said they hope to have more such partnerships in the future as they work with agencies to identify the necessary courses to recruit in a new career field.

MVCC staff makes it easy for prospective students to enroll.

“We wanted to make a concerted effort to make the onboarding of students very comfortable,” Thomas said. “When they are asked too many questions, they may leave. We ask for basic information, then we create the student’s ID, register them for courses, buy books from the bookstore, send them to their homes and send them the schedule. The only thing they have to worry about is showing up on the first day of class.’

Students can also easily get guidance on courses they want to enroll in, if needed, Thomas said. For students who are unsure of what they want to do, an advisor is available to help them decide on their interests and align them with course offerings.

And after course completion, FastTrack advisors will also help students build their employment networks while connecting them with potential employers on new career paths.

The FastTrack program is expected to be diverse and stackable, where one course will lead to others that will open more doors for students’ futures, Thomas said.

“We don’t want this to be a standalone program,” he explained. “We want this to be the starting point for infinite possibilities.”

For more information about MVCC’s FastTrack Career Program, visit

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