Student refreshes her job skills and self-confidence in SJVC’s Business Office Administration program
Three years ago, Magdalena Carrasco thought she was ready to start a career in business. She had earned an Associate’s degree in Accounting and was looking forward to contributing financially to the life she and her husband, Norwin, planned to provide for themselves and their young son, Keith.
When they found out Magdalena was expecting their daughter, Bella, they pushed her career ambitions forward indefinitely. But that didn’t mean she wouldn’t work. Off and on for the next couple of years Magdalena worked in and out of the grape fields, a hard but reliable financial safety net.
When Bella turned one-year old, Magdalena felt it was time to claim the rewards of her education and the work she had trained to provide. It wasn’t that easy. “I was submitting resumes, but while I was doing that I was thinking ‘I don’t know if I could do this (job)’,” says Magdalena. During these months of job search her doubts increased.
“I kind of lost my confidence,” Magdalena says. She needed a boost. “I wanted to go someplace that would give me some time to refresh my memory of everything I had learned in college. I wanted to get help with my resume, get interview-ready and everything else it would take for me to get a job.”
San Joaquin Valley College in Delano came up on her radar and she made an appointment with an Admissions Advisor. “They told me how short the class (Business Office Administration program) was, so I liked that, and the financing was good,” says Magdalena. “Night classes helped me out too, to take my kids to school. And once I got out (completed program), I would get help getting the position I was looking for.”
It had been a few years since Magdalena was a student and at twenty-six years old, she knew she was going to need some help. “My husband was the main supporter, but once I began my studies, I found more support from within the school from all the instructors,” she says. “Miss Ochoa (faculty member) would notice that something was off and would be understanding and say if I was gong to be a little late, to just let her know.”
Many of her classmates had also made lots of sacrifices to make the most of this educational opportunity. They could easily relate to each other.
“We supported each other through assignments,” she says. “We all knew each other’s lives, who had kids, who was going to work. We kind of got close from the very beginning.”
In the Business Administration program Magdalena was in her natural element. “I just really like math,” she enthuses. “I was one of the students that would help out the other students with the math.” She also learned a lot about Business Communication, writing cover letters, memorandums and computer programs, such as Excel. Other subjects were a little more intimidating for her.
“I wasn’t looking forward to the networking project where I had to go out into the community to meet people in management positions and ask them about their positions, their struggles and basically how they do their jobs,” says Magdalena. “It took me out of my comfort zone. It was beneficial, though.”
One of the business managers Magdalena spoke with offered her a job, which she accepted. She worked there until the ag-related company’s harvest season concluded and staff had to be reduced.
Magdalena learned a lot about herself during that networking exercise. “I have no idea why I was so nervous about that project. I’m very friendly and talk to people I don’t know, but something job-related I get nervous.” But, she wasn’t about to let that discomfort give her a failing grade. “It was a learning project because I found out I could do it. I didn’t listen to that part of me that didn’t want to do it.”
Magdalena’s business skills and confidence were growing every day, but she knew there was a lifestyle price she and her family were paying. “Finding a balance between being a mom, keeping up the house, still searching for that good, full-time job; just being able to do everything and have everything in order.”
The emotional toll was even harder. “I would only see my kids in the morning when I got them ready for school, and they had been used to having me all to themselves,” says Magdalena. “My son asks me, ‘Why do you have to go to school?’. “But he had to learn that I was doing something to benefit them and he understood.”
Magdalena doesn’t lose sight of the reason they all are making this sacrifice. “My main drive is to be a financial support system for my husband,” she says. Norwin is studying to become an architect and needs only one more class to complete his studies. “I want to help support us financially so that he can take some of the work load off and focus on his studies. We’re OK right now, but with my financial support we could be better.”
Magdalena pictures herself in the career she has brought into clearer focus with her newly refreshed skills and knowledge. “It would be a small business with friendly employees,” she envisions. “I would do a lot of computer work and the pace would be moderate – not too slow of a job. I’m OK with working in a fast-paced environment and staying busy.”
Magdalena has no regrets about her business education do-over. “Business technology changes so often, a skills refresher is important to have.”
She is eager to pull all her newly polished attributes together and work with SJVC’s Career Services Department to present herself to an employer in need of her allegiance. Her confidence level is at its highest peak.
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