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Dakota Smith sets up his laptop at the Bitwise South Stadium on Feb. 1, 2017. Smith is the director for logistics and administration at the Lyles Center for innovation and entrepreneurship at Fresno State. He taught the first course provided at Bitwise on critical thinking and problem solving. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Career Readiness Academy prepares Fresno for a better tomorrow

The Fresno State Division of Continuing and Global Education is hoping to enrich the Fresno community by offering free classes for persons wanting to brush up on their business skills through its Career Readiness Academy.

The workshops, although part of a university division, are generally geared for those in the Fresno community who have been previously incarcerated, are in a transition period or need a refresher on their workplace skills.

The division and the Bitwise educational hub, Geekwise, partnered to create the Career Readiness Academy.

“This is a grant-funded program that our division developed specifically for the downtown center where we have classrooms in the Bitwise South Stadium building,” said Susan Hawksworth, marketing specialist for the division. “We were approached by Wells Fargo who said they were willing to grant some money to our division and [asked] what we would like to use it for.”

The division’s dean, Dr. Scott Moore had pitched the concept of providing workshops geared toward those who are low income and might not have had the opportunity to learn how to create an effective resume, or prepare for an interview and learn skills that will help them in their career.

Hawksworth credits Wells Fargo for being the catalyst for the program because the academy would not have been possible without the bank’s funding.

She said the division is completely self-supported, does not receive state funding and is a one-time-only program so far.

“We offer a wide variety of programs through our division,” Hawksworth said. “The Career Readiness Academy is one part of that, but everything that we offer basically has to pay its way.”

The division is partnering with organizations in the Fresno area such as the Fresno Rescue Mission. The Mission is helping people by referring them to the Career Readiness Academy to help them find jobs when they finish the Mission’s program.

“They have hundreds of men in their program who are trying to get back on their feet after either being incarcerated or perhaps having substance abuse issues,” she added.

Hawksworth said the division is working closely with United Way, which is an umbrella organization for more than 100 nonprofits in the Fresno area.

University students are not discouraged from participating in the workshops. However, Hawksworth encourages students to utilize resources that are already provided by the Career Development Center at Fresno State.

David Hoff, degree certificate and early start specialist of the division, said his role in the program is to locate instructors, attract students, determine lesson plans and accommodate any requirements necessary to instructors.

Hoff said the programs are important to Fresno because they will help people who are looking for a few extra skills land jobs and improve their economic situation.

One of the goals of the academy, Hoff said, is “helping people make sure they can get a job to help them feed their family and potentially improve their situation in life.”

Geekwise CEO Bethany Mily said that since the classes are being held in the Bitwise building, the environment will be opportunistic for the students.

“I hope that holding courses in the Bitwise building with more than 100 technology companies under one roof will give students the opportunity to network, get to know folks in the technology industry and enable them to make connections and establish relationships that could lead to future employment,” Mily said.

She added that when participants take the workshops at a technology hub where people work and collaborate daily, it will give them an opportunity to see where and how they can use their newly acquired skills.

At the end of the workshop series, the students will receive certificates of completion to add to their resumes to help on their journey along their chosen career paths.