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Ysmael Adam Mejia’s Secret for Success

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 6:16 am

Smell the Roses
Over the course of a year, Ysmael Adam Mejia transitioned from clocking monotonous hours at car dealerships to tackling new and different challenges each day as a Data Center Technician at Apple. In ten years, Adam fully expects to own his own network security company. He’s been offered every job that he has interviewed for since enrolling in Unitek College’s 9-month Information Technology Certificate Program. Adam’s secret for success? Unyielding dedication and the interview skills he honed with the help of Unitek College’s Career Services Department.

Frustrated with his current job, Adam began seeking new opportunities that would satisfy him in a way that the automotive industry simply couldn’t. His interest in computers and technology presented a viable option for a future career. But with no experience in the field, Adam knew he’d need to explore all available options for higher education. He researched schools, keeping an eye on class sizes while weighing the degrees and certifications offered by each program. Over 9 months, Unitek College’s would provide him with the tools to take seven certification exams; if he passed them all, his certifications would help convince future employers of his abilities. Adam enrolled in April of 2014, in search of an engaging, mentally challenging new career.

Tooth XrayAdam’s dedication to both the program and his future career in IT proved to be tireless. He continued to work at a dealership during the day, attending class each night until as late as 10:30 PM. This left little time for homework, personal time, and sleep. Instead of falling behind or feeling frustrated with his lack of free time, Adam devised a way to work smarter, not harder. He began scheduling out his week ahead of time with the help of his phone’s alarm clock: different sounds signaled it was time to start his homework, grab a snack, or throw in a load of laundry. He found himself pulling ahead—reviewing skills before they were taught in class—so that class time itself was more productive use of his time.

Conveniently, Adam’s Career Services assignments included a duration estimate at the top of each handout. Despite his heavy load of school work and full-time job, Adam always made time to complete his Career Services assignments, which focused on industry research, resume writing, and interview best practices. Three months into Unitek College’s program, Adam was offered an interview with a local gaming computer company. Career Services made the connection, but Adam’s initiative and skills were apparent to the hiring manager. Adam spent time making sure his resume highlighted his skills and the certifications he’d already earned. His assignments taught him how to research companies and ask relevant questions during an interview, so he was ready for anything his interviewer could throw at him. His preparation paid off—he received a job offer and left the automotive industry behind.

Preparation breeds confidence. Adam was always hungry for a challenge, but Career Services helped to ensure that Adam could convey his desire to learn and grow in the IT industry to future employers. Because he walked in ready to convey his skills and experience, Adam was confident that he could earn any position. After his first job in IT, Adam earned positions in both research and live environments for VCE and Groupon. After graduating from Unitek College’s IT Certificate Program, Adam leveraged his education, experience, and the connections he had made working in IT over the past year into a position at Apple. He was able to get his carefully-crafted resume in front of the right people and aced his interview by asking relevant, insightful questions.

During his time at Unitek College, Adam studied how to troubleshoot network issues and deploy new equipment, but he also learned how to market himself as a valuable asset to any company. Adam’s time management strategies didn’t just help him stay on track at school—they helped prepare him for a career in IT. Adam recently came back to speak with Unitek College’s current IT students and shared the following advice about interviewing:

“I am engaging. I ask pertinent questions. I have a firm understanding of [a] company’s goals, work culture, accomplishments, as well as an understanding of their competition. This shows my desire to be part of their team. It shows initiative. […] The classrooms will give you the knowledge to do the job, [but] Career Services will give you the knowledge to get the job.”

Adam doesn’t need to worry during an interview; he is confident in his training and in his methods of preparation, which will continue to serve him well.

Food For Thought

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 5:32 pm

We’ve all been there. You’re hard at work in class, nose deep in a Dental Radiology textbook, and your stomach is dead set on drowning out the teacher with its growling. Working on your Dental Assisting diploma is hard work, and it’s easy to miss a meal or two during the rush. But instead of reaching for a quick candy bar or bag of chips to tide you over, why not consider packing one of our “brain food” snack suggestions below.

Greek Yogurt – Any food product that has that many commercials can’t be a good choice, right? Well, in this case, the snack lives up to the hype. Greek Yogurt is low in sugar but high in protein, which means it will keep you satisfied longer and you won’t have that sugar crash 30-minutes later. You also get the bonus of a huge variety of flavors to choose from.

Eggs – We suggest boiling before packing, but eggs are a brain power boosting super food like none other. Not only are eggs inexpensive, but you get the powerful mix of protein and choline, which boosts brain function and memory—two handy traits when you’re squeezing in all those study hours.

Its not only good, its good for you!

Combine these great ideas into a delicious and healthy breakfast!

Blueberries – Judge them not by their size—a healthy helping of blueberries has been found to prevent memory loss, and they can help increase learning capacity and motor skills. Blueberries are a natural choice if you’re a snacker—just keep a sandwich bag with you and grab a few when you’re feeling peckish.

Dark Chocolate – Okay, don’t go crazy on this one, but small amounts of dark chocolate can be helpful. Not only does it hit you with a little energy, but the snack causes your body to release mood-improving endorphins. Trust us, it’s a lot easier to remember the difference between a “Rad” and a “Rem” if you’re in a good mood.

Pumpkin Seeds – Not to be confused with “Pumpkin Spice” (the flavor that overtakes everything from coffee to ice cream every fall), Pumpkin Seeds are a light, crunchy snack that packs a healthy dose of zinc. And zinc packs a healthy dose of enhanced thinking and memory abilities.

Oatmeal – This one’s a little harder to pack with your textbooks, but eat a good-sized bowl of oats before heading to class and you’ll find you don’t need to pack a snack. Oatmeal provides a slow release of glucose (brain fuel), which keeps you sharp for several hours. And because it breaks down so slowly, it helps you feel full a lot longer.

Apples and Cheese – Okay, this snack isn’t a brain food, but it is considered to be a snack that helps promote healthy teeth, and we figure healthy teeth on a future Dental Assistant is pretty reassuring to all your future dental patients. The calcium in cheese helps strengthen tooth enamel, and the high water content of apples dilutes the fruit’s acids and sugars, plus it helps stimulate saliva which washes away food particles and adds an additional layer of protection against acid.

If you’ve come across any other great study snack ideas, we’d love to hear them! Share them in the comment section below this blog post, and be sure to check back for suggestions from other Unitek College students. Happy studying!


Learn more about our exciting Dental Assisting Program here.

Take a break and smell the roses

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Whether you’re in class, learning in the field with your dental assisting externship, or building practical experience in the Unitek College Dental Assisting Lab, one thing is the same: you’re working hard. When you’re working towards a possible new career in the Dental Assisting field, it’s easy to get caught up in studies, projects, and exams, and there’s nothing at all wrong with working hard to meet your career goals. But it’s also important to take moments when possible to “rest your brain”, refuel, and refocus. Fortunately, if you’re studying at our Sacramento campus, you’ve got plenty of options. Here are a few ideas on how to spend your valuable down time.

Smell the Roses in MSmell the RosescKinley Park – Literally. McKinely Park is home to one of Sacramento’s famous rose gardens, a must-see if you’re the type of person who needs to get outdoors to clear your head. The rose garden features free admission and takes about 30-minutes to see start-to-finish. There’s also a jogging track, plenty of play areas for kids, and the park is dog-friendly if your furry roommate needs a break as well. We’re told April is a particularly nice time to visit.

Coast Along the American River Bicycle Trail – Considered one of the best bicycle trails in the country, the American River Bicycle Trail winds its way through the Sacramento area and is available only for non-motorized visitors… which is great news for students who enjoy biking without worrying about distracted drivers. It’s a quick way to forget that you’re in the middle of a city. Look for beautiful river views, quiet forests, and occasional wildlife… but if possible, avoid the trails around midday on the weekends. They can get crowded!

Shop in Old Sacramento – Nature not your thing? Check out the cobble-stone streets of Old Sacramento. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you like museums, food, or shopping (they have a great mix of old-timey shops plus a few modern boutiques). If you play your cards right, you’ll come back from your visit an expert on California Gold Rush history.

Catch a Movie – There are lots of ways to watch a movie, and Sacramento has all of them. Check out a concert or catch a classic movie at The Crest. Or combine entertainment with the great outdoors and see a blockbuster at the Sacramento 6 Drive In. Need a little more “oomph” in your films? The Esquire Imax Theater just got an upgrade (and we hear the new seats are very comfy).

Chow Down with a Food Tour – Foodies, we didn’t forget about you. And hey, who can study on an empty stomach? Check out the Local Roots Food Tours for a personalized tour of some of the best restaurants, cafe’s, and watering holes off the beaten path. Or satisfy the sweet tooth with a tour of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Whether you’re on your own, with kids, or with pets, the Unitek College Sacramento campus is surrounded by activities, attractions, food, and unique experiences. We all need a break from studies at one point or another, and our Dental Assisting students have a world of opportunities from which to choose. Don’t forget to let us know some of your favorites!

Internship versus Externship: What’s the Difference?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

The nine-month Dental Assistant program at Unitek College covers a wide range of job responsibilities. Not only will our students be able to learn chairside assistance during dental procedures, but they can also leave with a full understanding of dental radiology, terminology, dental lab duties, management, and dental techniques—because the more you know about the dental profession, the better you can anticipate needs within your office. One final aspect of the Dental Assistant program is the medical externship—a term that raises eyebrows on occasion. Most people are familiar with internships—paid and unpaid—but an “externship” isn’t a term you hear every day. So to get everyone on the same page, we’ve compiled some points that explain the difference between the two educational programs.

Job Responsibilities

One of the biggest differences between internships and externships is the level of work responsibilities within each. During an internship, students are often put right into the workforce: you may be asked to do low-level jobs with few responsibilities, but you are actively working and actively gaining job experience within that company. An externship, on the other hand, is far more focused on educa tion than job performance. Rather than woTooth Xrayrking, an externship typically involves job shadowing—your opportunity to follow a medical professional and observe them in their day-to-day duties. You can ask questions, explore, and observe—rounding out your classroom knowledge with real life application.

Paid vs Unpaid

Internships are sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid, and sometimes, employers find little ways to help their interns make ends meet aside from a paycheck. Externships, on the other hand, are short bursts of exposure to days in the life of medical professionals, and typically don’t offer any sort of pay or stipend.

Time Spent

An internship generally requires participation for long periods of time. Some can even last up to a year or longer. An externship is much, much shorter. The advantage to shorter experiences is that students can have multiple externships within their program, opening up more and more opportunities to learn from professionals in the field. And with the Unitek College dental assistant program only spanning as little as nine months, time efficiency is everything.

Future Employment

Internships, for the most part, are designed to fill positions within a company. If the managers like what they see from a student, they will do what they can to keep that student around after graduation—which is why most internships take place in the final semesters of a student’s degree. Externships are designed to give students experience and insight into the field as a whole, not just one company, and so by design aren’t designed to transition into jobs. However, because students get greater exposure to industry professionals through externships, these educational moments can lead to future opportunities as students network, explore multiple practices, and make personal connections. New Dental Assisting Program Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the difference between the two educational experiences, and a little extra insight into the life of a Dental Assistant student at Unitek College. We believe the experience you’ll gain while following dental professionals is priceless, but as always, with internships and with externships alike, the experience you get depends completely on the how much you put into it. Give your externship your full focus and effort, and you may be amazed where it leads. You can read more about the Unitek College Dental Assistant program by following this link:

Dental Assistant Program Launches At Sacramento Campus

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Brace yourself, Sacramento… the Unitek College dental assistants are coming.

According to Dr. Seuss, “teeth never go out of style,” and in this case, the Bureau of Labor Statistics backs up his claim. There’s never been a better time to be entering the job market as a Dental Assistant. With the number of jobs growing by close to 25% over the next ten years, it should come as no surprise that dental assistant associates degrees are in demand, which is exactly why the Unitek College Sacramento campus is hard at work planning the launch of their own dental assistants program next month.

In celebration of the new program, we’ll be taking a closer look at the world of dental assistants over the next few weeks. A day in the life of a DA is hard to describe in just one post-your work could take you in any number of directions as you work side by side with dentists and dental hygienists. That day of work could involve taking x-rays, scheduling appointments, or assisting your dentist directly. Let’s just say it’s a lot more than just colorful smocks and handing a dentist the tools she needs.

“You’re literally
helping put
smiles on
peoples’ faces.”

This is a dynamic job in one of the fastest growing career fields in the United States, which means the possibilities are endless. To put some perspective on the numbers, while dental assistant jobs are growing at a rate of 25%, the demand for police officers is at 5%, chefs are also 5%, and high school teacher jobs are only growing at about 6%. If you’re looking for a degree that puts you where the work is, it’s tough to beat the opportunities ahead of qualified dental assistants.

And think of it… you’re literally helping put smiles on peoples’ faces. What’s not to like?

Don’t forget to check back each week as we continue to explore the career opportunities ahead of our Dental Assistant graduates, plus some sneak peeks at the program, the people making it happen, and more from our Sacramento campus.

Chief Academic Officer Says San Francisco Needs 14,000 Nurses By 2020

Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5:58 pm

From candy striper to naval nurse to chief academic officer, Christy Torkildson’s passion has always been nursing. Hailing from Brooklyn and Miami, Torkildson worked as a candy striper at the local Children’s Hospital and knew that she had found her calling. She currently serves as chief academic officer for Unitek College and NCP College of Nursing, overseeing all academic programs and administering Unitek’s CCNE-accredited (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) RN to B.S.N. nursing program to over 1000 students at five campus locations.

Christy Torkildson

Unitek College CAO, Christy Torkildson

What is your background and education?

“I have a B.S. and M.S. in Nursing, with an emphasis on administration and education, and will soon be defending my Ph.D. in Family Nursing and Health Policy at UCSF. I’ve worked Neuro ICU, Oncology, Neonatal ICU, OB, Pediatrics as well as working as clinical specialist, nursing informatics and house supervisor. I began as a Navy nurse and was the first program director for George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, the first pediatric end-of-life and transitional care facility for children and their families in the country. I started teaching as a part-time clinical adjunct professor in 1990 and have been teaching ever since.”

What is your outlook on the health care industry in San Francisco for jobs?

“The country is facing a nursing shortage – the workforce is expected to grow by over half a million by 2022. The San Francisco Bay Area – impacted by an aging population, the Affordable Care Act as well as having a concentration of world-class medical institutions –will need over 14,000 nurses by 2020. Is the investment worth it? RNs in San Francisco make $91,000+ a year compared to the national average of $65,000. There’s also the need for qualified nursing instructors where graduate degrees are required.”

What career advice can you offer to students interested in a career in health care?

“The health care field is full of opportunities from direct patient interaction to supportive services. I decided what kind of nursing I wanted to do by volunteering as a candy striper. Attend career fairs and college open house events where you can talk to individuals working in the diverse fields of health care and nursing and speak directly to health care professionals about their experiences and education.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on