Khadija Harris left her hometown in Florida five years ago to find better employment opportunities in Georgia. After settling in Ellijay, she landed a job at a call center. Later, she moved to Canton and secured a data entry position with a furniture wholesaler.

In December 2018, Khadija was contemplating a career shift. She discovered Goodwill’s services through the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Association (GVRA) and visited the Woodstock Career Center. She completed a few job readiness training classes there and continued searching for a job. By February 2019, Khadija found the job search to be challenging. Despite her extensive customer service experience and outstanding performance in the field, the pay in those jobs was not up to her expectations, and the high turnover rate indicated that it was not a suitable career path. She was looking for a new direction.

Khadija had a meeting with David Harris at Goodwill in September 2019. During the meeting, she mentioned that she was looking for a higher-paying job in customer service or a more suitable career path. David kept in touch with her over the next year and provided her with several job leads. In late 2020, he informed her about a medical billing and coding training program beginning in January 2021. Khadija was thrilled about this opportunity, as she had family in the medical field and felt this would be her perfect path.

Khadija initially couldn’t enroll in the first medical billing and coding cohort due to her work commitments. However, like many others, her life was drastically affected by the COVID pandemic in March 2020. Despite the challenges, David maintained contact with Khadija and assisted her in securing funding from the DOL-WORC grant. This funding allowed Khadija to enroll in the next course offering, which began in April 2021.

Enrolling in a new program was a big step for Khadija. She had been working in data entry for a long time, and leaving her job was unsettling. However, with the support of her husband, she took on a part-time job at Publix to supplement the family income while in training. She persevered despite feeling like a risky situation and remained determined to succeed.

Khadija grew up surrounded by computers, which made her feel at ease with the online course. She often found herself helping her classmates who needed to be more digitally savvy. The course progressed quickly, but the classes were exceptional, and the instructor at Chattahoochee Technical College was knowledgeable and approachable, making for a very positive experience.

Khadija recalls, “I didn’t think I could do it initially, but I’m proud of this achievement.” She says that the exercise where the Goodwill team had her create a schedule was very beneficial, and Training Manager Thea Parlagreco was incredibly encouraging and helped to increase her confidence.

Khadija passed her final exam with a score of 98 in May. Her 60-hour internship at DeKalb Gastroenterological Associates was a great experience, and her mentor guided her through her certification exam. After much hard work, she passed the exam in mid-August, which she found to be the toughest test ever. She felt relief and joy when she received her score.

After working at DeKalb Gastroenterological Associates for a while, she looked for a full-time job closer to home. A former coworker introduced her to a recruiter with Wellstar, and in mid-December, she started working at the front desk of the Acworth location. She’s excited about the position because it offers many growth opportunities, and she plans on taking the next step in about six months.

Khadija expresses her gratitude towards Goodwill for preparing her in unexpected ways. She mentions that she will always be grateful for the skills she learned during the course. Additionally, she acknowledges that due to the high cost of the course, she was able to attend it with the support of Goodwill. She feels fortunate to have earned the credential without any charge and is very thankful for being on this new path.