Cassandra Prindle started her medical assistant education in September 2009, and though she didn’t know it at the time, her stint at Institute of Technology would place her in a career at Mission Ranch Primary Care less than one year later, only one day after graduation
Coming from a very small town and graduating with a high school class of eight, Cassie was unsure about where her future was headed. She enrolled in three different colleges over a six-year period before finally graduating with her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Chico State University. After graduation, Cassie was unsuccessful in finding a job in her field and was working full time at a retail store. “I was working in retail, and it was just one of those things. I graduated with my degree and I was like, what now?” she said.
After some searching and deliberation, and with the support of her husband, Cassie decided to pursue her diploma in medical assisting at the Institute of Technology’s Redding campus.
Since Cassie was still living in Chico and working full time, the decision to go back to school was not an easy one. She would have to wake up every day, work from six in the morning until three in the afternoon at her retail job, go home to get cleaned up, and drive an hour and a half to Redding to attend classes at night.
Despite the obstacles of the commute to school, an exhausting schedule, and the time demands of a burgeoning new relationship with her husband and his children, Cassie was tremendously successful in the classroom. With her strong study skills, which included carrying flashcards with her at all times, Cassie managed to graduate with straight A’s – with the exception of one class in which she fought her way through pneumonia, only to miss an A by a couple of points. “I like challenges,” Cassie said, “and the more challenging something is, the better I seem to do.”
She especially enjoyed the hands-on education style and the one-on-one attention she received from her teachers, which was quite different from Cassie’s previous college experiences. “The teachers were fantastic. They were so supportive, and if you had a problem you were able to take them aside and talk to them,” she said. “It was really nice actually, because I was used to a college that had hundreds of students in the classrooms, and if you didn’t take the time to go wait in line for a teacher’s office hours, you were on your own… It’s really personalized at the Institute of Technology, and that’s what I liked about it.”
When it was time to find an externship site, Redding externship coordinator Sheryl Martini found Cassie a great opportunity at a primary care facility not far from home in Chico. The only problem was that the office had no real need for an extern at the time. But Sheryl knew that if the office just gave Cassie a chance, they would have to hire her. “I knew Cassie, I had met her, I had dealt with her on campus, and I thought she was great,” Sheryl said.
After many phone calls and persistent work by Sheryl, the office manager agreed to interview Cassie. “At first, Barbara [the office manager] wasn’t sure if she had the resources for me to do my externship,” Cassie said, “but by the end of the interview, she was like, ‘Okay, see you Monday!’”
The transition from externship to an actual job isn’t always as easy as it might seem. As the final days of her externship period ended, Cassie wasn’t sure if she had a job or if she was going to have to look for something new after graduation. After all, the primary care facility had told her that they weren’t hiring. But according to Sheryl, upon learning that Cassie’s externship period had ended, “Three of the physicians at the office went to Barbara and said ‘Do not let her go; find her a job!’”
With that, Cassie was hired on permanently, and she hasn’t looked back since.
How does Cassie feel about her new job – and her new life? “I love it here, and I work for a great doctor,” she said, “You know, I’m a lot happier now. I have a career.” Her smile shining through with each question answered, Cassie’s hard-earned success is apparent.