Graduate Review: DonaRita Crooks

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’”  Maya Angelou

Hi there.  My name is DonaRita Crooks.  I am a recent Career Step honors graduate who lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

I am a mature woman who, after more than 20 years, was downsized from a job that truthfully forced me to work way too many hours at a demanding and stressful pace.  Obviously, it was time for a change and I was ready for it. 

I started my career many years ago as a medical secretary transcribing operative reports, discharge summaries, and consultations for the surgery floor.  (Orthopedics was and still is my favorite!)  It seemed natural to return to my roots, and while contemplating what my future might become, I discovered Career Step online.  I researched other institutions, but Career Step seemed to offer the most comprehensive course and support for the best price.  And did they deliver!  Everyone that I have been in contact with has been unfailingly supportive and encouraging.  Their response time is amazing – whatever my question or concerns.  I attended university twice in my younger days, spent a lot more money, and was never treated as well as I am by the Career Step team.

However, I was rather naïve thinking that my previous experience would allow me to breeze through this course.  Was I wrong!  This is a thorough, well-planned, and very demanding course.  But I am here to tell you, there is life after the practicums . Trust me.

While you are slogging through the seemingly endless cycle of practicum transcriptions and editing, a marvelous thing is happening. Your tired and frustrated brain is actually retaining information and building confidence that will serve you well in your new career.  Sure, there is that little thing called the final exam you have to get through first, but it will happen.  (For the final exam, my only words of wisdom are prepare well, be confident, be refreshed and relaxed, and be careful.)  For me, passing with honors was one of my proudest moments.  I mean, I worked really, really hard for it but I did get through it, and so will you. 

The best reward is that companies in Canada and the United States, and probably everywhere, want to hire you.  They know you are well qualified and possess all the necessary skills and qualities they need.  You will still need to spruce up your resume, but Career Step helps you with that too. You will be amazed how many job leads they send your way.

So here I am, employed shortly after I graduated and loving it.  My speed is not where I want it to be, but my accuracy is very good.  Sure, I am working hard and there is another learning curve to adjust to your client’s software and profile, but believe me, those practicums prepared me in a way I never imagined.  I remember things I didn’t even know I learned. 

As a mature graduate, this is the perfect career choice for me at this time in life.  I work flexible hours as an independent contractor.  However, there are endless opportunities for young and old alike.  Just the other day I learned of an opportunity with an insurance company that wanted someone with medical terminology knowledge, and my local hospital is practically begging for a few good onsite transcriptionists.  Although those opportunities did not appeal to me, it proves that there is work and it is more varied than I might have originally anticipated.  I think of all the young people spending thousands of dollars for degrees and ending up unemployed or underemployed.  I am so happy to have left the crazy, harried 60-hour work weeks my former profession demanded.  While I may never get rich working as a transcriptionist, it is an interesting and a flexible career choice that allows me the time and energy to enjoy my family, friends, and my LIFE.

Thank you Career Step for helping me create a more balanced life.  Best of luck to all you soon-to-be graduates.  Exciting opportunities await you.  And now, my garden beckons.


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