Changing your life is a huge undertaking, and deciding on a school can be a difficult decision to make. That’s why Pioneer Pacific interviewed several graduates about their experiences before, during and after training at PPC. Read their stories below and learn about the difference Pioneer Pacific College made in their lives.
While working in the restaurant business, Megan found that her favorite task was keeping the finances organized, so she decided to pursue a career in Accounting.
What are you doing now?
Megan: I work in Accounts Payable at a large PR firm. I research, code and enter invoices, do check runs and keep up on my vendors.
What inspired you to pursue accounting as a career?
Megan: I got interested when I was managing a restaurant and helping with the books. I liked the process of keeping the finances organized and finding out where the money went.
Did you consider other schools?
Megan: I was working full time, so community college or another regular college would have been hard. Plus, Pioneer was really close, so it worked out great.
What inspires you to continue working hard?
Megan: My goal in life is to get to a place where I don’t even have to think about money. I don’t need to be rich, but I just want it to not be an issue, not something that has to be discussed all the time. Like, “how I’m going to pay for this?” I just want to be able to do something I enjoy and make a great life.
What are you most proud of?
Megan: I’m just glad that I finally got a degree. I’m not that old, I’m only 25, but there was a point where it seemed like I would never get one. My sister’s getting her Master’s! I’m just glad that I stuck with it. I do have plans to go on to get my Bachelor’s; it feels good that I’m actually going forward. My mom’s pretty happy, too!
What did you like most about Pioneer Pacific?
Megan: They just make it so easy. They set up your classes for you. You just have to show up. They loan you out the books so you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on books. You don’t have to worry about all that other stuff – like trying to work everything out with your schedule so classes don’t overlap. The program is all set up so you can just go through and get it done, and get on with your career.
After 25 years as a bookkeeper, Barb sought the new challenge and security offered by a career as a Medical Assistant.
What are you doing today?
Barb: I work with a family practice physician. I did my externship there, and will soon be starting more of a full time position. I’m getting great experience. I was afraid my age might hold me back, but it’s actually a benefit. The placement counselor at Pioneer Pacific knew me and knew the kind of patients at the clinic and thought I’d be a good fit. It’s really rewarding, especially when I can help an older person who’s really sick. Just giving them an extra little kindness in their day. I’m happy because I’m finally doing something I enjoy.
What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?
Barb: I was a bookkeeper for 25 years and I wasn’t really happy doing that any more, and I wanted to try something new. One day I went to my doctor and saw his assistant. She told me she went back to school to be a Medical Assistant when she was 40. So I thought, “If she can do it, I can do it.” And I like to help people, so it sounded like something I’d like to do. Also, I was a bookkeeper in the manufacturing industry. That industry was going into a slump and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be there. That’s another reason I like healthcare as a career. It’s always there; it’ll always be needed.
Why did you choose Pioneer Pacific?
Barb: I’d been to another school and wasn’t impressed with their professionalism. Pioneer Pacific was definitely more professional. Plus, it wasn’t far from home and the prices were reasonable. I didn’t have to pay anything until I completed with the program. And the program was at night, and I was working as an assistant bookkeeper, so it allowed me to work part-time and still go to school.
When you were going through school, what or who was especially helpful?
Barb: My husband was really supportive because he didn’t demand dinner every night!
How has your degree helped your earning power?
Barb: I started as a Medical Assistant after leaving 25 years as a bookkeeper. And I know I can only go forward.
What makes you proud?
Barb: I know my kids are proud of me for going back to school. I think that was a really good example for them. You’re never too old to learn and go back to school and change your life.
What would you say to others who are considering going to school?
Barb: Do it now. Don’t waste any more time thinking about it. I’m glad I did it when I did. I was 49 or 50 when I went back to school. If you’re even thinking about it, at least take one class to see how you like it. Just do it!
Looking for financial independence, Debbie started a court reporting program at another school, but is happy she switched to Pioneer Pacific to complete her Paralegal Studies Degree.
What are you doing today?
Debbie: Since January I’ve been working part time as an assistant to an attorney. I do all of the routine tasks that the attorney would normally do like filing, typing court documents, calling clients for simple things. It leaves more time for the attorney to focus on client strategy. I’m transitioning from a career as a grocery checker, so right now I have two jobs. I work 3 days a week at each job with Saturdays off. It’s time-consuming, but it’s well worth it because I know when I get the experience I can just sail away with my career.
What’s it like to be a paralegal?
Debbie: I love it. I never thought I would like office work, but I do. I get to talk to a lot of clients, and some of the courts and other attorneys. I just love all the interaction. There are lots of different secretarial duties, too, and I also do some research. Everything I learned in school I am applying, it just depends on what kind of law firm you’re at as to what you do specifically. I’m going to turn 50 soon and this is a new career I know I can carry on until I retire.
You tried another school first. What do you like better about Pioneer Pacific?
Debbie: I was at a different school for two years studying court reporting, and I wasn’t even halfway through the program and I said, this just isn’t for me. I was so glad I switched to Pioneer Pacific. I found the teachers very helpful. The classes are small, so the teachers can really focus on the students. I felt like I got the attention that I needed. And it only took 18 months. The program was streamlined for exactly what I needed. And the placement counselors were very helpful transitioning out.
Describe an average day when you were in school.
Debbie: Busy! I’d go to school from 7am till about 2, then I’d go to my internship from 2 till 5, then I’d go to my grocery job from 6 to 11. Then I’d get up the next morning and do it again! In between times, I had to squeeze in homework or tests or other stuff, like eating! But my children are grown, so it gave me time to devote to me.
What inspired you to change your life?
Debbie: I’ve heard that the average person changes careers 8 times in their life. I’d been doing the grocery business for 27 years. So that was a strong motivation. Finding something that I enjoy and making a good living at it. I realized I wanted to spend more time doing volunteer work and other things. And I realized with a single income, I had to make as much money as I was making before to keep my lifestyle. So I looked in the Sunday paper to see what I could do that would pay the same and allow me to keep my style of life. That’s when I decided to go back to school.
What’s next for you?
Debbie: I just got offered a new position with a real estate development company, and I’m really looking forward to it.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about going to school-but hasn’t taken the step yet?
Debbie: Follow your dream. If there is something you’ve always wanted to do, go do it. That’s what inspired me. One day when I was thinking as I was coming home from the grocery store, is this all there is to life? I want to do something else! So I just jumped in and did it.
Donald found opportunity in a re-education grant and a degree in Computer and Networking Technology from Pioneer Pacific’s Eugene campus.
What kind of work are you doing today?
Donald: I’ve been doing general desktop support, installing software and working on spyware and antivirus solutions for Lane County, in Eugene. This job started as an internship which I did the last 6 months I was in school. I worked here in kind of a learning environment without being paid, and it worked into a temporary position. Then I interviewed for a permanent position as an Information Systems Analyst, and was offered the job! I am excited to start my new responsibilities.
What inspired you to pursue technology as a career?
Donald: I was always fascinated with technology. When computers first came out, they were kind of like a toy at first and I enjoyed playing with them. I actually worked in a lumber mill doing production work. They happened to be one of the most advanced mills in the country, and I could see firsthand the computerized equipment and how it benefited them. I was fascinated at how so many things could be automated, and it just got me more interested in the computers. Was it a big leap to decide to go back to school? Oh, it was huge, I’d considered it for years but I always held back because there is that big, grey unknown area. I have three kids and so I have a family to support, and a house payment and you just wonder what is going to happen, “will it work out?” But I got to a point where I decided to go for it.
What gave you the courage to go for it?
Donald: Where I worked they were going to be laying off some people. I wasn’t in line to be laid off, but because of the circumstances in the layoff, some people qualified for assistance to be reeducated, so I checked into that. They allowed me to voluntarily take a layoff and qualify for the education grant. And that was just enough to give me the edge to say, “At least there is a portion of it that will be paid for.” What was holding me back from going to school was how to pay for it, but the grant helped, and I figured it was now or never. I figured, “Do I stay here forever or do I take a chance and go for it?” I went ahead and took the chance.
What did you like about Pioneer Pacific College?
Donald: In talking to other people and my career counselor, I realized that if I went to a community college, my 2-year degree might take three years to get and I didn’t have that kind of time to take 3 years. With Pioneer Pacific I was guaranteed to get through the program in 16, 17 months. Also, they really work with you to meet your goals. The goal was to graduate with a degree and not just the degree but also to have the skills. And they would work to meet that end.
What are your next goals?
Donald: I achieved the main goal of getting my diploma and I’m actually working at what I went to school for, which is good. That actually inspired me. My goals now are to get a permanent job and go back to school and get a Bachelor’s degree. I’d like to get a position where I could get into other areas of network management, and get into a little bit more into network and desktop security.
What would you say to someone who’s considering going to school, but hasn’t taken the next step yet?
Donald: I’d just say to do it. If you are considering school, but you’re not sure, I can guarantee you’ll be in the same situation a year from now if you don’t do anything. Life is not a certainty. If it’s a dream, you have take that leap of faith and go for it. You aren’t going to achieve what you’re dreaming about if you don’t take a chance.