Student’s Determination leads to an Accounting Career
Sara Drasin found out the hard way that debilitating health issues that kept her from working for several years, once corrected, continued to penalize her when she was finally able to hold down a job.
“People were looking at my resume and saying, ‘You don’t have any work experience.’,” says Sara, who hoped that fact might not be a showstopper for an entry-level job. “They were the most basic retail jobs that people would go after when they were in high school, and I got rejected all the time. I put in an application at McDonalds and even they would not take me.”
Sara had managed to earn her Associate’s degree from a local community college, while struggling those 5-years with an issue that was finally resolved with surgery.
At 24-years old and finally experiencing restored health, Sara was determined to reposition herself for employer desirability. She would extend her education credentials.
“In Junior High I had a fascination with business,” she says. “I liked the professionalism of business; I really liked the fashion of business, unique and clean-cut.” Her business program search began.
Sara knew she would not find that program at community college. “Community College is more hands-off,” she remembers. “When you register there it’s, ‘Hey, if you need anything, go to one of our departments and they’ll help you’. But when you go to those departments, they kind of look at you and think, ‘Why are you bothering us?’.”
She did not want a repeat of that experience.
Sara is living with her mom, Sherry, who has medical issues that benefit from Sara being close at hand. When a caregiver mentioned that her daughter was happily enrolled in SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program, Sara discovered the college also offered a Business Office Administration (BOA) program and was only ten minutes away from home. She called and got an appointment for that very afternoon.
Her first impression: “I knew it fit immediately,” she remembers. “I signed up for classes that very afternoon.” Sherry had gone along with Sara for the meeting with an Admissions Advisor and campus tour. “She was kind of excited and trusting me to make the right decision.”
That appointment was on a Thursday, by Monday Sara was in class.
It didn’t take long for Sara to get into a rhythm of student life. And it was a very different experience from her last turn as a community college student. “The very first day, I just went ‘Aaaaah’. In community college I’d just get done what I needed done and then be on my way.” Not so in this private college environment. “I didn’t think I’d be recognized for how well I did in my classes. I was accepted into the Technical Honor Society, and I was complimented a lot, I guess.”
Support and recognition were there for her every step of the way.
“There were instructors who cared and students hungry for the knowledge and experience,” says Sara. “The class sizes were nice and small, and I enjoyed learning about all the subjects. I really, really liked my professors, and they did a fantastic job of teaching me.”
Whatever doubts Sara may have had about her abilities to succeed in a business program were put at ease. “When I first got into the program there were times I would think to myself that I hadn’t really had experience in business, so I didn’t know if I could do this. But I told myself to just give it a try.”
But sometimes the smallest things can trip you up. Successful completion of the Business Office Administration program requires students to be able to type 45 words-per-minute (wpm) and hold that speed with 98% accuracy. When she started the BOA program Sara’s top speed was 27 wpm. “When I heard it was 45 wpm, I got very scared,” she says. Practice took her speed from 27 to 30 to 35 words-per-minute, until, finally, she hit the mark. Then came the 10-key calculator standard to meet. She was, once again, a little intimated, but armed with a new confidence. Nailed it.
Along the way of challenge-and-mastery, Sara was a steady presence on the Dean’s List for academic achievement.
There was another potential obstacle. Sara is a naturally shy person who can meld into a group and assume a cloak of invisibility. But her classmates were having none of that and could see her clearly.
“The Business program group of students were very funny and very outgoing, and there were moments that I felt more like I was with a group of friends than in a classroom,” says Sara. “It was like everyone enjoyed the company and it made learning in class that much more enjoyable.”
Help was always just a raised hand away. “Whenever I had a question or there was a concept I needed more clarification on, the professors were always there,” says Sara, who was surprised to learn that this support would not stop even after she completed her program in September 2018.
Now happily working as an Accounting Clerk where she processes checks from insurance carriers, constructs form letters, performs data entry and creates Excel data bases for a busy office, Sara occasionally needs a little deeper insight into an area of business she studied in her business program at SJVC.
“I still actually talk to Mr. Herman (Technology Coach for SJVC’s BOA program) when I have business-related questions on my job,” says Sara. “I thought they (SJVC) would deactivate my student email once I left, but they told me they would keep it active.” She has put that assurance to the test a few times and finds communication alive and at the ready to continue to assist her in the performance of her position and career.
Sara doesn’t intend to ever stop learning. She intends to pursue a higher degree, even as she learns from those around her. “I draw influence from people who are important to me,” she says. “People I admire.”
Those people tend to have three attributes: “It’s the way they carry themselves, present themselves and the way they treat others,” says Sara. Those three traits have visible measures. “If something is challenging them, would they give up or work through a difficult situation,” she continues. “How hard are they willing to work? Will they make sure the product they deliver is the very best?”
These are undoubtedly the very questions Sara asked herself before she committed to doing whatever it might take to be a success in her career. She got her answers.
Those companies that turned her down – missed an opportunity to be represented by an outstanding person of good character, ambition and professionalism. As it turned out, Sara might just want to thank them.
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