Getting career-ready can take a combination of certificates and degrees

Emily Hilliard is 24 years old and she already holds two Associate Degrees and a certificate in Phlebotomy. Why such a varied set of collegiate achievements you ask, because sometimes getting career-ready requires more than one.

Hilliard started her college career at SUNY Rockland where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts, Math,

Emily Hilliard

Emily Hilliard

and Science. “I originally wanted to be a nurse,” she says which is why her next step was to attend Eastwick College where she began taking prenursing classes. “The classes made me realize it wasn’t for me, so I researched and found an interest in Sonography.” Sonography is the imaging technique used to see internal organs, muscles, etc. From there, Hilliard began to pursue her second Associate’s Degree in Sonography.

She wasn’t done yet though and while working on her Sonography degree, Hilliard was able to earn her certificate in Phlebotomy. Having this certificate to add to her resume made her stand out more to employers when it came time to look for a job. Even though she never worked as a phlebotomist, simply having the certificate improved her employability.

Having been out in the real world for almost a year now, Hilliard currently works two different jobs in the medial field – one is per diem at a doctor’s office while the other is for a mobile company that has her at a different doctor’s office every day. She loves being in the field of Sonography because, “you’re able to go in so many directions with specialties.”

The whole educational process for Hilliard was a means to a career. The degrees she earned as well as the program she enrolled in where selected to aid her in getting ready for a career in the medial field. Knowing the end goal was extremely important to Hilliard so she could do her research and know what employers were looking for even before starting her college education. “I went to a school with a degree program because I researched jobs before starting the program,” she says. “The job posts showed they preferred degrees over certificates.” Ensuring she got the right combination of degrees and certificates was imperative for Hilliard.

Hilliard began her college education knowing she was taking the right steps to succeed in her chosen career field. She let her future career influence her college path rather than have a traditional college experience of earning one degree, or going for a Bachelor’s then Master’s, etc to ensure she was prepared to go out in the real world. “I believe it is very important to research the career choice you want. In the end it will help financially,” she says, especially for those students who, like her, were paying their own way through school. “I had to make a decision [based on] not only what I wanted to do, but [what was] cost-conscious as well.”