Valerie Martinez is a young Austin resident who is pursuing her professional and educational goals on a path that leads through Austin’s healthcare sector. Her journey started with a chance encounter with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Program at Goodwill Central Texas.
“After my graduation, I went to my high school to ask about my transcripts, and I saw my college counselor. She was the one who gave me information about the assistance at Goodwill,” Valerie said.
This was how Valerie found the 18-month pharmacy technician certification program, and it caught her attention: “It looked interesting, and I like learning something new and seeing new things. Most of my family is in the medical field, and I wanted to fit in with them, too,” she said.
Goodwill’s youth program assists youth living in Austin/Travis County with career readiness training and career counseling, GED preparation, and paid work experience. The program is funded through Workforce Solutions Capital Area.
Through this assistance, Valerie applied to Austin Community College’s Pharmacy Technician Program. She began her studies in August 2015. While attending ACC, Valerie worked as an intern at a pregnancy care center in South Austin.
Her family did not have the resources to support Valerie during the two years she studied, so the program’s assistance was invaluable: “I received school supplies, an internship, gas cards, help editing my resume, practice for answering interview questions, and a scholarship to help with my classes and books,” she said.
“I struggled a bit with the program. I had to retake a couple classes and stay up late to make sure I was caught up with the material for the next day. I was studying really hard for the exams and trying my best,” Valerie said.
“Valerie persisted despite having to retake a class she did not pass,” said Linda Kaufmann, a career case manager at Goodwill. “Despite this setback and a delayed graduation, she did not give up.”
Valerie earned her certification in August 2017: “Towards the end, I made new friends and we helped each other with what was needed. We formed study groups and made study packets for each other,” she said.
“Valerie’s ability to complete a lengthy and rigorous training program such as Pharmacy Technician is impressive. This achievement speaks to her grit and focus,” said Linda.
After earning her certification, Valerie began studying for her associate degree at ACC. In May 2018, Valerie began working as a pharmacy technician at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.
“At St. David’s, I answer the phones when the nurses call to ask for something for their patients, and make sure the control drugs are counted correctly and put in the right medication machine for the patients,” Valerie said.
“I am learning every day I go to the hospital, and I try my hardest in getting the work done as soon as possible and correctly. Some of my coworkers say that they see me as a hard worker,” she added.
For other young Austin residents who are thinking about their future but are unsure where to start, Valerie has some advice based on her own experience: “Looking back, I should have taken my time and asked for more help. Keep up the work and don’t try to rush into things,” she said. “It took me longer to finish my certificate because I was working at the pregnancy center while I was in school, and it was a little too much for me. But I did it, and now I enjoy working in the hospital.”
About WIOA Youth
WIOA Youth is part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program funded through Workforce Solutions Capital Area. WIOA is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. WIOA offers financial assistance to eligible individuals for job search assistance, training, and other support services.
Visit our WIOA page to learn more.