PCC / News / April 5, 2013

Once laid off, Barbie Cowan finds a new career route

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Career Pathways has been a lifesaver for Barbie Cowan.

Cowan, who has a high school education, was laid off a year ago as a dining room manager for a local restaurant, which was hit hard by the economic downturn. She entered computer applications certificate classes at PCC and learned about marketing herself, resume building and how to excel at job interviews – all thanks to a Bank of America stipend through the PCC Foundation. A Career Pathways coordinator helped her pick out the right classes and find textbooks.

Barbie Cowan (middle right) joins, left to right, PCC President Preston Pulliams, fellow Career Pathways student Anna Coca and Bank of America President for Oregon and Southwest Washington Roger Hinshaw during a check donation ceremony for Career Pathways.

Barbie Cowan (middle right) joins, left to right, PCC President Preston Pulliams, fellow Career Pathways student Anna Coca and Bank of America President for Oregon and Southwest Washington Roger Hinshaw during a check donation ceremony for Career Pathways.

“I had never been laid off; never been fired,” she said. “Being in middle management, working 50 to 60 hours a week, you are pretty much who you are. While looking for a job I went through their classes they held on basic competency classes for the National Career Readiness Certificate. As I did some career training, I saw a flyer for the B of A stipend.”

Bank of America has donated $65,000 during the past year to PCC’s Career Pathways to provide support of partial tuition to 55 students pursuing a variety of proven career pathways in the accounting, administrative, customer service, facilities maintenance, and healthcare fields.

“I thought this was the best way to move into another career,” Cowan said.

It turned out it was. Cowan had been in the hospitality industry more than 30 years and had plenty of experience in office work so entering the computer applications certificate made sense. She has decided to explore obtaining additional certificates to make her resume more appealing. Now, that layoff from her longtime job is ancient history.

After completing her first certificate, she continues to take classes to earn a more advanced certificate. As she completes her second, Cowan is also looking forward to applying what she has learned in the classroom in her upcoming PCC Cooperative Education internship. She plans to earn an administrative assistant one-year certificate and eventually an associate’s degree.

“Getting this certificate will help me get my foot in the door,” Cowan added. “The great thing about Career Pathways is that even after I get my certificates they will still be there for me. They are going to be with me until I get a job. I lost my confidence when I lost my job. But now I have the confidence in myself again and can go out there and get a good job.”

About The Author: James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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x by Career Pathways receives additional investment from Bank of America | PCC News 11 months ago

[...] Career Pathways program has been a lifesaver for Barbie Cowan, who was awarded a Bank of America stipend last summer. Cowan, who has a high school education, was [...]