FCTS Grad Talks About Her Career as a Female in the Defense Industry
TURNERS FALLS, MA – Cynthia Peeters, a 1985 graduate of Franklin County Technical School, came back to her alma mater recently to encourage female students to take risks and fearlessly pursue the career they want.
Peeters should know. She has worked in the male-dominated defense industry since 1985 with a number of companies. She currently works for Millitech, Inc, a South Deerfield-based manufacturer of communications systems, much of them for the defense industry.
Her job title is corporate facility security officer and corporate technology control officer. She works on homeland security and advises government agencies like the FBI, CIA, State Department, NCIS and others.
“There are not a lot of women in my field,” Peeters said. “There are a lot of men in black. We’re begging to hire women.”
Starting pay for a position like the one Peeters has is around $30,000; supervisors make $50,000 to start. She said the salary for her job with experience is between $50,000-$100,000 and more.
Although Peeters does not have a bachelors degree, she said her experience is just as good in her industry as a college education. She was the only female in the drafting program at FCTS, and worked a co-op job at Kollmorgen in Northampton.
Peeters said the workplace can still be sexist, and women have to prove themselves in her industry.
“If you speak with authority on a topic, people will respect you,” she said. “If you’re going to speak, speak with authority and knowledge.”
Peeters said if young people are unsure about what they want to do for a career, they should take a two year program at a community college. She pointed out that both the CIA and FBI hire people with bachelors degrees.
“We have job shadowing programs (at Millitech),” Peeters said. “We have college internship programs. We give tours of the company.”
Following the talk, Health Technology student Alyah Sutton said Peeters had a lot of interesting things to say about career possibilities.
“It was inspiring,” Sutton said. “A lot of people come into school and talk about jobs you could do, but this doesn’t seem like a job a woman would do. But, she does it and she’s a supervisor. It’s impressive.”