Brandon Milo, 26, graduated from the Health Care Administration program at the Carrington College Sacramento campus in July 2014. Brandon grew up in a small town in Calaveras County, California. Even though he loves the area, he knew he had to move to a bigger place to kick-start his life and career.
Thanks for your time Brandon; what did you do after graduating high school?
I had two jobs in the seven years between high school and coming to Carrington. I worked in customer service at a lumber yard for three or four years before I switched to an accounting/auditing role at a casino. I didn’t struggle at high school, but I didn’t enjoy a lot of it. That’s why I decided to go straight to work. I never had any plans to go to college. I knew that wasn’t the ideal thing to do in life, but it was the right decision for me at the time. I always believed that school wasn’t for me.
What made you change your mind on that?
I got sick of doing the same thing over and over. I guess I finally realized I wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted a career, something that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to say “Yes, I do this for a living.” Part of the problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do; I never had a clear plan like a lot of people.
What made you choose Carrington?
I looked at some schools online. I called a few, but they all started their pitch with something involving my credit card, even though I told them I was just looking. Carrington was the fourth school I called, and their approach was different. I didn’t feel that it was about money, it was about me. It also helped that my cousin went to the campus, a different program but the same campus, and absolutely loved it.
How did you choose your program?
Medical Billing and Coding (MBC) was my starting point when I met with Kimberly in Enrollment Services. She asked me certain questions, and gave me information to look over for both the MBC and Health Care Administration (HCA) programs while she stepped out of the office briefly.
As I sat their reading in Kimberly’s office, I realized that Medical Billing and Coding is a very specific skill set. I love to multi-task; I like the challenge of doing a bunch of different things at the same time, so I came to realize that Health Care Administration might be a better fit for me.
Kimberly ran into Ms. Young in the hallway and brought her to meet me. Ms. Young, who teaches MBC and some HCA classes, spent 40 minutes just talking with me about both programs. That’s what clinched it for me – the fact that the staff and faculty care so much. She wasn’t just pitching me stuff to get me to sign up, she was genuinely interested in helping me find the best fit. It was really comfortable, it felt right. It didn’t feel like one of those cheesy commercials.
Mr.Bozek, my main Health Care Administration teacher, was just as influential throughout the program. All in all I really couldn’t have asked for a better school or staff. I still maintain that someone drugged me, because I never enjoyed school this much!
Were there any other deciding factors that helped you choose Health Care Administration?
I felt I’d be building on the strengths I already had, just using them in a different direction. I already had auditing, administration, data entry and computer skills from my three years at the casino. I figured with those skills, the transition from work to school wouldn’t be as huge as I believed it was going to be.
What the most interesting thing you learned about yourself at Carrington?
I had lunch with Ms. Young after graduation; she asked me a question – “Did you really push yourself?” I had to admit I didn’t. The program was by no means easy, but it was very well structured. It was set up in a way that made it difficult to fail. The school gave me everything I needed to succeed. I graduated with a 4.0, made the Dean’s list, the President’s list (I didn’t know that was a real thing!) and even though I worked hard, I didn’t push myself as much as I should have in terms of learning new things.
This is what I learned about myself: I’ve always taken the easy way in life. Although I’m really happy with the outcome, I do wish I’d pushed myself harder, maybe studied something out of my comfort zone like Nursing. It made me step back and start thinking about what I do in life, and why I’m doing it. I want to become a little more open-minded about things. You never know what connection or opportunity could lead you to the next step, so why close your mind off to any avenue? I’ve been guilty of that in the past.
You were 90 minutes from home, where did you stay?
Some friends let me live with them in the city rent free, and the best part was I could bring my two dogs. I couldn’t leave them behind!
My friends were hugely supportive; they said just clean up after yourself, do the basic roommate stuff and you’re welcome to stay. That was huge. My mom is always supportive; she said “As long as you’re happy, I don’t care what you do, I’m happy!”
As a country boy, did you enjoy city life?
My town, San Andreas, is so small it doesn’t even have a stop light; I’d always wanted to live in the city, at least for a while, to have that experience. I figured I’d enjoy living down there. But the longer I was there, the more I realized I like my small town! I enjoyed the experience of living in the city, but I’m glad I’m now back where I feel I belong.
So you moved back in October. Are you working now?
Yes, I’m working for Resource Connection now. It’s a nonprofit organization that provides services and programs in three areas: children and families, nutrition, and prevention and intervention. It’s not completely medical, but it’s a step in the right direction. That’s the beauty of the HCA program, the administrative skills are transferable. I’m also waiting to hear back from Mark Twain St. Joseph Hospital on some billing and coding positions I applied for.
Sounds promising. Are there many jobs up there in Calaveras County?
There are a lot of opportunities in the city, but there are also a lot of people fighting for them. It doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to get the job you want. Up here there are fewer jobs, but fewer people going for them. The problem is that the cost of living is low here, so when people get a good job they don’t leave. They either expire or retire! I do have some great connections up here though, so it’s just a matter of time. There’s another opportunity coming up soon that I’m going to be considered for.
In three years I hope to be in a health care management position. I’m flexible, it’s more the workload that I’m looking for as opposed to the position. But I do want to live, work and coach up here if I can.
What do you coach?
I’ve been coaching my high school tennis team every year since 2007; it’s unpaid volunteer work but it’s very important to me. During the season, I coach Monday through Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00/7:00pm. I guess it sounds a little odd, but I’ve built bonds with these kids; I don’t want to give up what I love.
It doesn’t cost me anything, other than time and it’s so rewarding. I don’t have a wife or kids yet, so I’m not in a position where I have to give up my passion to earn more money to support a family. That’s another reason why I want to stay local; the people up here have always been flexible to my coaching schedule and I hope that will continue in the future.