My Career Step: Maisha Martin

Maisha Martin

Maisha's Goals

  • Be able to support herself and her 2 children
  • Find a career—not just a job

Benefits of her Career Step Education

  • Hands-on experience through the externship program
  • On-the-job learning and networking opportunities
  • Self-paced study that allowed her to finish in 3 months

Looking For A Career—Not Just a Job

I started my adult life married at the age of 18 and quickly became a housewife to a military man and a mother of 2 children. For 8 years, I only held small part-time jobs in retail and never had the opportunity, time, or money to finish college. Before I knew it, I was going through a divorce and soon became a young single mom with little opportunity for work that would enable me to provide for myself and my children.

I began researching work alternatives that would be more than just a job—I wanted something with a career outlook; something I could build on, both financially and with increased experience. I already had years of experience in the retail environment, and it just made sense to start a transition from retail to healthcare. Pharmacy technology was a seamless way to achieve that because it can lead to much more than just counting pills. Once certified, pharmacy technicians actually have a very broad career outlook from working in a hospital to working with clinical studies.

I was drawn to online Pharmacy Technician programs because most of them are self paced and they typically teach you the same standard information. But in my research, only Career Step offered me knowledge AND experience. No one will hire you if you’re all book smarts but have never set foot in a pharmacy. I’m a hands-on learner anyway, so a program that offered me the opportunity to walk away with both a certificate and a bit of experience in hand made me feel confident that I would ace my national exam and land any job I applied to.

Once I had decided on a career and school, I took advantage of what little time I had left as a military spouse and used MyCAA financial assistance toward my program. I had no money of my own, so it was important for me to find a school that would not only provide a good educational foundation but was also not priced above my MyCAA grant. Career Step was the perfect fit.

Trained and Experienced in 3 Months

Career Step gives you 6 months to complete the Pharmacy Technician program, and I finished it in just 3 months. I was a newly single parent of 2 preschool-aged children (they are 13 months apart), working through my divorce with a spouse who was overseas, and working full time at a dead end job. All of this served as my motivation to succeed in my Career Step course; and, as with any online class, self discipline and self motivation are a must. Any and all open time was dedicated to my studies. I would take my books with me to work so I could study or read during breaks. After getting the children settled to bed, I would read and study before bed and then get up early to study before the kids had to be up too. On occasion I would even read my textbooks out loud to my kids! ☺

I was so excited when I finally reached the point in the course where I was eligible to apply for the externship. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to apply all that I had learned in the pharmacy as well as the chance to start building my network. I had the wonderful opportunity to extern at a Walgreens pharmacy with 2 wonderful PharmD’s—one of whom had just graduated herself from pharmacy school. That Walgreens also employed a pharmacy technician who was also studying for the PTCB Exam. AlI of these amazing individuals were such a strong support network for me, and they really helped me prepare for both the PTCB Exam and the work field.

Pharmacy Technician Employment

My job search was not too difficult because I live in Durham, NC, which is known as a city of medicine and is full of bioengineering and pharmaceutical companies. About a month or so after completion of my program, I was hired at Kerr Drugs, a popular retail pharmacy throughout North Carolina, and about a month later I started working at a pharmaceutical call center, where I’m currently working, assisting patients who have questions about their medications. I am, however, in the process of finding a job more closely related to that of a pharmacy technician. My goal is to work at University of North Carolina Hospital or even a long-term healthcare pharmacy.

It is true that in most retail pharmacies someone could do all the training on the job, but the majority of pharmacies want a Certified Pharmacy Technician or at least someone who has some kind of knowledge of medications and overall pharmacy practice. Career Step enabled me to gain both book knowledge and, most importantly, experience through the externship program, all of which gave me everything I needed to successfully pass the PTCB Exam and obtain my national certification. The externship played such a large role in my success because I learned so much over the 180 hours and I was able to gain hands-on experience and network with the pharmacists there.

I would recommend Career Step to anyone who is looking to get a jumpstart on their career pathway. Career Step’s inexpensive certification programs are a great way to get your feet wet and get in the door toward a new career. It’s well worth it! And it’s truly an investment that’s guaranteed a return. If you’re a military spouse, it’s an even better deal because you may even get a basically free education with MyCAA as was the case for me, and who would say no to free educational opportunities?!


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