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How FastForward gave Taylor a new lease on life

A few years after graduating high school, Hampton Roads resident Taylor Johnson was out in the world working and enjoying her early 20s. She had recently completed an associate degree in the medical administrative assistant program at Tidewater Community College. Yet, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. She felt it was time to take the next step in her career.

“I called TCC to see if they had any degrees or certificates for medical billing and coding and they told me they offered one through the FastForward program,” Johnson said. “Then, they gave me the contact info for a career coach at the workforce development center.”

Johnson officially entered FastForward in November 2020 and was able to earn her credential in less than seven months. She continued working in retail full-time while taking classes.

“My classmates were very encouraging, supportive, and friendly,” she said. “We made a group chat with everyone so if we were unclear about something we could consult with one another. A handful of people had experience in the field or were familiar with what we were learning so it was nice to hear from them during classes.”

Although the classes were long (three hours per session), Johnson explained that being able to take everything online allowed for a good work-life balance. Invigorated by the challenging and encouraging class environment, she excelled. An especially proud moment was when she realized she had passed the certification test at the end of the program.

According to Johnson, her experience in FastForward taught her things that went well beyond medical billing and coding.

“The instructors and coaches helped us with resumes, interviews, job searching, applying for jobs, etc. They really set us up for success overall,” she said. “I also loved the Zoom resume meeting because that’s probably one of the hardest things to master. Growing up, no one really taught us young adults what to say [in an interview] and what employers are looking for.”

In April 2021, Johnson started her current job as a medical biller at Tidewater Kidney Specialists. So far, she has flourished in the role and credits FastForward for giving her the boost she needed.

“It was well worth it,” she said. “I think having FastForward on my resume helped me get my current job. Before that I was coming from a retail background while finishing school. The program really helped me get my foot in the door at Tidewater Kidney Specialists.”

Despite finding a rewarding career, Johnson isn’t done. She wants to go back to school in the future and build on her knowledge and work experience. Johnson said she’s keeping her options open.

“I do want to further my education, whether it be working towards another certification or degree,” she said. “I just haven’t decided exactly what I want to do yet.”

To learn more about FastForward and to find out what financial assistance programs you may be eligible for, contact your local career coach by using our Contact Us page.