For 29 years Brenda Jones rose through the ranks at Brake Parts, Inc. working her way from Timekeeper to Staff Accountant. She served the company for nearly half her life as a faithful employee through nearly three decades of name changes, technology changes, and personnel and she was comfortable. She had planned on retiring with them. That modest goal ended when she found the company was downsizing and her job was being shipped overseas.
No one would have blamed Brenda if she had gotten upset or felt betrayed, but that’s not her. She has something special that many of us take for granted, a positive attitude. She took this negative experience and chose to look at it as an opportunity. She knew with a good attitude, drive, and faith she had succeeded before and though it was scary to start over later in life, she was determined to see it happen again. Brenda chose to see herself as fortunate, she had always wanted to go to college, but never had the chance. She even credits the Brake Parts facility for being proactive in laying the groundwork to ensure her and all those effected would receive as much assistance as possible.
Change is hard, but as Brenda believes, “along with change comes opportunity” and that opportunity came through the Trade program (Trade is a federal program that provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result their jobs being outsourced overseas). She had a choice, try to find another job with no education or go to college and train for a new career. She knew she had a talent for numbers, so she started asking questions. “What were the growing fields?” “Where can I get more security in the job market?” That’s when she came across medical coding. Researching the field, she found it was expected to have growth and a lot of opportunity.
Brenda checked out various schools until she found one with a curriculum that fit her needs. Choosing to pursue the accelerated program, she completed training in about a year, because her end goal was always to get back to work as quickly as possible. She said, “Everyone was very understanding and I found myself being a good example to my grandchildren as to the importance of choices and studies. It was a good feeling to have the family support and to know that they were proud of me and my accomplishments. I took all my courses very seriously and graduated with honors by earning a 4.0 all the way through.”
She became a certified coder, passing the brutal five hour and forty-five minute American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) exam a week before she completed training. With the coding test out of the way she began applying for positions and interviewing. The career counselor at her college recommended that she apply for an open position with Heritage Hospice. She knew she had what it took to do the job and she made sure her resume and cover letter reflected it. She added, “I knew when I walked through the door that this was the place that I was meant to be. I felt very strongly about how I could compliment the already awesome nature of the work. I had finally found a true team from every area involved. Everyone there was needed for a common and heartwarming and deserving purpose! All I had to do was interview and communicate it.”
In the first interview Brenda was a little nervous, but excited and confident of her ability. She told the interviewers about her recent AAPC certification and made sure to also inform them that she would be taking International Classification of Diseases – 10th Revision (ICD-10) through AAPC. This was an additional credential that would soon be required of all coders. She was nervous, but felt good about how she had performed in her first interview. The interview panel at Heritage Hospice must have liked her interview also, because shortly after Brenda was called for a second round. She reminded the interviewers that not only was she certified and ready to work, she was taking the initiative to get the additional credential on her own. In the days following her second interview, Brenda finished her ICD-10, and one of her first acts was to call Heritage Hospice and let them know. Her willingness to communicate must have really impressed the organization, because she was called in for an interview with the Executive Director, Janelle Wheeler.
After three rounds of interviews all she could do was wait. During that time, Brenda received a couple of calls encouraging her to please continue to wait for a formal response for the position. Brenda questioned, “Was I truly going to be offered the job? That’s what I was being told in a way. I felt like I knew that I would be placed where I should be, in the right time.” Finally, the call came and she was offered the position.
Brenda was very thankful for the assistance of the Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass staff Aimee Neal, WIOA Workforce Specialist and Kathryn Reppert-Ensor, Trade Readjustment Allowance/Trade Allowance Adjustment Coordinator, at the Danville location. Brenda concluded, “I had so much guidance and support with this journey from Aimee and Kathryn at the Career Center. They recognized my desire, morals, and work ethic and they answered so many questions. They eliminated my insecurity to allow me to blossom and succeed. I consider them forever part of my life and a huge part of my success in this journey.”
Brenda created a positive future through having a positive outlook. She praises the work she does at an organization she loves. She respects and appreciates her coworkers and sees herself not only as part of a team, but performing a very important service to those in need, saying, “my job is to make sure the person who needs hospice never has to worry about the billing and they can rest assured everything is taken care of for them. It’s very fulfilling.”
If you would like to learn more about the services available to job seekers, including training for a high demand career please visit: www.ckycareers.com or visit our Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass location in Lexington.
These services are funded by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and administered by the Bluegrass Area Development District, under the guidance of the Bluegrass Workforce Innovation Board and 17-county Local Elected Officials of the Bluegrass Region. For more information on this story or the services of the Kentucky Career Center