When Laine Arenas and Rita Pitts finished college they weren’t quite sure where to turn.
“The employers I talked to wanted relevant experience and I didn’t have it. After months of interviewing, I was at my wits’ end,” said Pitts. “I couldn’t find a first job.”
For Laine Arenas who had work experience under her belt, the light bulb came on a bit later when she realized that she had to update her skill set in order to stand out.
“I had worked in a lab and was laid off due to lack of funding. I really wanted to stay in the lab but after reviewing numerous job descriptions, I realized that the only way to effectively compete and distinguish myself from other candidates was to go back to school and obtain the cutting-edge skills that employers were looking for,” Arenas said.
Since both Pitts and Arenas were unemployed, they were eligible for ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funding which paid for them to get their Biotechnology Laboratory Certificate at California State University San Marcos.
“The teachers and my fellow classmates were great,” said Arenas. “As soon as I finished the two-semester certificate program I was hired on as a temp at Illumina. I still feared that lack of experience in the biotech field would prevent me from obtaining a job but it turned out that a combination of work experience, and everything I learned in the Biotech Lab Certificate program, was applicable to my work at Illumina.”
Pitts followed a similar path after she finished the certificate program, also landing a job in Quality Control at Illumina. Both Pitts and Arenas went straight on into the Master’s in Biotechnology program at CSUSM.
“As soon as I started working at Illumina I realized that the only way to move up quickly was to have the MS degree, so I thought, ‘why not?’” Arenas said.
“Now that I’m this far along, I really believe that having a Master’s in Biotechnology will give me the accreditation and credibility I need to quickly move ahead in the field. If you had asked me two years ago, I never would have imagined I would end up here,” said Pitts. “I love this business. It’s ever-changing and the training at CSUSM has helped me stay on top of it. It’s the best course I could have imagined for my life and my career.”
Laine Arenas and Rita Pitts will graduate from CSUSM with their Master’s degrees in Biotechnology in May 2013.
Learn more about this and other program offerings in nursing, kinesiology and business at CSUSM Temecula.