No one likes studying alone. Luckily for Candice Polanco, she always had someone to help her get through the long, evening medical billing and coding classes at American Career College-Orange County.
"I always brought 'Mike and Ike' to class," Polanco said, referring to the famous fruit-flavored candy, "It's just enough sugar to keep you going through the night. Then just make sure you've got your pen and pencils and paper to take notes and you're good to go."
Polanco first became interested in medical billing and coding after her son was in the hospital and she came into contact with the field firsthand. After years of being a stay at home mom, Polanco was intrigued by all the options the career held and decided to check it out.
"There is definitely a lot to it and it's a lot to learn, but it's exciting at the same time," she said.
After graduating, Polanco attended a career fair ACC-Orange County to explore her options. While she expected to talk with recruiters, Polanco said, she was "pleasantly surprised" with the response her resume received. At the fair, she lined up one job interview for the next day and had another one in the works.
"There are so many different aspects to billing so I think I'm still learning what avenue I want to take," she said. "I have another interview set up to do scheduling so that would be another avenue to the billing department but we'll see where it takes us.
What were you doing before attending ACC?
I was a homemaker for a lot of years and then I worked in retail before that. I was ready to get back into the field and wanted to have a career and not just the up-and-down of retail hours so I came back to school.
Was it weird going back to school?
I was really scared and anxious when I first started, but as it went on the people were nice, the staff was always there for us and it was just a really good experience.
What was the hardest part?
I think the time management because I've got three kids so just making sure that I could do my homework and studying as well as taking care of the three kids and everything at home.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
The first couple of days, yes. If you can get through those first couple of days, then you're good.
What got you through it?
I knew I wanted better for my life. I knew I didn't want to be stuck in the rut of retail with no set hours and no benefits. That's what I'm looking for.
Looking back, what would you tell yourself about school?
Don't be so nervous. It's scary, but it's doable and you just have to push through.
What made it so scary?
The unknown of "Am I going to be able to manage the time? Am I still gonna be able to get my schoolwork done and take the kids where they need to go?" and handle all of that stuff.
What advice do you have for people?
If you want to make a change, just jump in and do it because that was my biggest thing. I waited so long -- but I needed to wait for the right time to do it, so just make sure the time is right for you and just do it.