Amanda Whitaker wanted something different than an ordinary, minimum-wage job, so she took the risk and entered Vanguard-Sentinel Adult Career Center's office administration training program.
"I wanted more for myself," Whitaker said. "As I skimmed the classified section each day, I began to notice a trend; many of these jobs suggested that applicants have certification/degree, previous experience and computer skills."
Whitaker graduated from Seneca East High School in 2005 and was out of school until she found an ad for Vanguard-Sentinel. She enrolled in the office administration program and, in 30 weeks, obtained skills necessary to begin a new career, graduating from the program in 2012.
"We first studied Microsoft Office Suites and tested to become Microsoft Office Specialists," Whitaker said.
Students learn basic computer skills such as typing, as well as software applications through Microsoft Office Word, Excel Spreadsheet, PowerPoint and other programs.
From there, the students can become administrative medical assistants or legal administrative office assistants.
"My focus was medical O.A.," Whitaker said. "That pathway included medical terminology, transcription, office ethics, electronic medical records and much more."
The last six weeks of the program, students are placed in externships, said Becky Bernard, business training coordinator for Vanguard-Sentinel.
Programs are completed in 30 weeks or less, Monday have limited seating with 13 openings. Each graduate receives a certificate and transferable college credit upon completion of the program. Students can take credits earned to Franklin University, Owens Community College or Terra State Community College.
The Adult Career Center's main location is its Fremont campus, at 1306 Cedar St., but classes also are offered at the Sentinel Career Center in Tiffin, Bernard said.
"I hope that Tiffin residents will become aware of the educational options we offer to prepare them with work-ready skills," Bernard said. "Amanda is an example of the success of the office administration program, and employers in the Tiffin area can be aware that they can find quality, trained employees through our facility."
With the skills she learned, Whitaker was able to be placed at Jerrold Solomon's chiropractor office in Tiffin. After her externship, she was employed and has been close to a year now.
"The OA program was my way of re-entering the world of education. This foundation has given me both the courage and skills necessary to one day pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree," Whitaker said.
Along with the basic computer skills and professional pathways, Whitaker and her class was able to build on professional development training such as resume writing, performing mock interviews and building a professional portfolio.
"Students come into the program with different reasons," Bernard said. "Some have been laid-off, or are too intimidated to enter into a college environment, or are changing career paths. We want to give them the skills and prepare them for entrance into the workforce."