Shannon Walsh is an admissions representative at our Tulsa campus. Shannon has been with Tulsa Welding School for about six months.
Thanks for your time, Shannon. What did you do before joining Tulsa Welding School?
I’m from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I worked in marketing for a software company in Plano, Texas. I also did a lot of wedding and event planning, and I performed in theater. So I did a little bit of everything in the Dallas area, but this is my first time working in education.
What brought you to Tulsa, and to TWS?
I moved to Tulsa with my boyfriend and saw the job posting! I did my research and loved what the school stands for: students first. We’re a team, and it’s all about the journey, helping students get to their destination. I love that. I’m also a glitter girl. I love sparkles. “You can’t say sparkles without smiling.” That’s kind of my motto, and I believe that no matter what you do, it’s really important to share that with other humans. We all need a little sparkle in our world, and I try to bring that to my job!
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Talk to us about your role as an admissions representative.
I’m part of a team of six. I’m here to guide prospective students on their journey, to help them see something through and finish it. They already made the first step by making an appointment or walking in. There’s a reason they showed up. I’m here to answer any questions they have and also to make them feel comfortable. A lot of our prospective students want to make a change, have a stable career and be able to provide for their family. It can be scary and invigorating all at the same time. That’s a huge deal. If they’re not from the Tulsa area, it’s an even bigger deal. I’m here to help them feel comfortable and confident in themselves to be able to make that journey. It’s so important for them to feel well informed and empowered to make their own decision.
So talk us through what they can expect when they come in.
The first thing I try to do is get to know them, I ask them questions about themselves to know what they’re looking for. What’s their ultimate goal? Yes, they’re here to weld, but what else? Tell us so we, as a team, can help fulfill that. I show them a presentation about Tulsa Welding School and introduce them to career services. They talk to them about part-time and full-time job assistance, then we take a tour of the campus. If there’s a demo going on in the lab, we’ watch that, then I take them to see the financial aid team. If they’re ready to go, we start the enrollment process!
What access do they have to you once they start classes?
All the access they need. I stay in touch. I like to see them through the whole process. For me, it doesn’t end when they start school. For me in my heart, that just doesn’t work. I want to make sure they’re good. I’ll text and ask about their first day, then I’ll follow up at least once a month while they’re in school, to ask how things are going.
What are some typical questions that students ask of you and the team?
They ask about the schedule and if it allows them to work. And it does, as we have morning, afternoon and evening classes. Also, if they’re a distant student (i.e. not local to Tulsa), they’ll ask about housing. It’s a great opportunity to talk about the housing company we use, EduRent. They also ask about tuition costs.
I’m very honest and open with them, I explain that everything is included, and I talk about the potential return on their “self-investment” in terms of the salaries that welders can make.
Welding is a tough job. Are you upfront with them about that?
I’m very honest and straightforward. Sometimes you have to offer tough love. Welding is a hard day at school. It’s not always easy, and when you get into the field, it doesn’t get any easier. That’s why I want to get to know them at the start. I want to know them so we can set them up for success. That’s why we ask people to be who they really are when they come in. Don’t be afraid to say what you want or what you’re looking for, because it might not be welding. If we don’t know, we can’t help you.
Do you have any involvement with graduates?
I’ve only been here six months, so I haven’t had any graduates yet! But I look forward to being able to check in with them from time to time, probably not every month, but I’d like to know how they get on once they leave us and start out in the field.
From your perspective, what advice do you have for people considering attending TWS?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do your research. We know it’s a big decision, but we can’t want it more than you. If you want it, we are here to help you make your dream into a reality. We want to take the journey with you. So have no fear. If this is really what you want to do, together we can make it happen. How serious are you about this on a scale of 1 to 10? The only answer in my mind is 10, so what’s holding you back? When I say no fear, there are so many layers to that.
What’s your favorite student story from your time at the Tulsa campus?
I have one student who just started again three weeks ago, and she’s doing phenomenal. The instructors are saying she’s the one to beat, and that’s pretty incredible, as she had to re-phase. In fact, she had to cancel last time around, and she reached back out to me to start again. But we had to have the tough conversation about whether this was the right time, because I want to make sure she’s successful; sometimes you have to ask the hard questions.
Finally, what can students do to help you help them?
Be who you are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is exciting stuff. Be a human and tell me what you’re looking for. Let’s have a real conversation so we can help you.