The Bobby Dodd Institute Bridge Academy is now accepting applications from students interested in joining the second cohort that starts on July 10th, 2023. Bridge Academy is the only IT program in Atlanta exclusively tailored to individuals with disabilities, making it a unique opportunity. The program is thoughtfully designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to obtain the prestigious global Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) credential, which is recognized globally and unlocks entry-level employment opportunities in the thriving IT job sector. Atlanta is one if the fastest-developing technology hubs housing multiple startups as well as developed companies with an average annual pay for an IT technician of $44,480. Atlanta has seen 15% growth in tech jobs, according to the one of the latest CBRE reports.
“That is a pretty exciting thing, particularly because there are 9,000 available IT jobs in the Atlanta market. We are hoping to offset some of those shortfalls for employers by preparing help-desk technicians and network administrators for the Atlanta region,” explained Jerry Sutton, Director, Learning and Organizational Development for BDI.
The program is absolutely free for all accepted applicants, making it accessible to those who are interested in pursuing a career in IT.
Rondarius Jordan, who is set to graduate in May, is planning on obtaining his Cisco certification right after graduation. He first heard about the program through “Autism Speaks” and didn’t hesitate to submit his application, as he has always been interested in pursuing a career in IT.
Reflecting on his experience, Rondarius shared, “My favorite part about the Bridge Academy program is that it helps me to interact with everybody else. It helps me manage a better working environment in order to develop my skills just to be one of those successful people out there who focuses more on finding the strengths and weaknesses, and how you can overcome a weakness before you turn it into a strength.”
Since starting the program, Rondarius has not only gained technical knowledge and practical skills, but he has also gained a better understanding of himself. He recognizes his strongest quality as being strategic and finding new solutions by organizing his thoughts and ideas.
Rondarius has valuable advice for everyone: “No matter how hard it is. No matter how many times you try. First, if you don’t succeed – try again, and you will be able to be more successful.”
Despite a busy schedule with classes running from Monday through Friday, over 90% of the classes are virtual, with only one in-person class every Friday, providing flexibility for the students.
The BDI Bridge Academy is a tuition-free, 20-week program focused on providing accessible IT training for people with disabilities by leveraging the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum. The ultimate goal of the program is to ensure students gain meaningful employment. In addition to the crucial IT skills, Bridge Academy also prepares students with job interview skills, proper dress, resume writing, mentoring, and support, to fully equip them for the competitive IT job market.
The Bridge Academy program is presented by Cox Enterprises. As part of their training, the students had the opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art Cox data center in Alpharetta learning more about how technology works.
“We are a large global organization, and part of our values is to work closely with the communities we serve. So, we’re super excited to work with Bobby Dodd Institute and help some of our students learn a little bit more about what COX does and opportunities in the information technology space,” commented Criss Coffey, VP, Enterprise Technology Operations at COX Automotive.
The eligibility requirements for the program include:
- High school graduate or a GED credential
- Strong verbal communication skills
- Reading and math skills above the high-school freshman level (US equivalent)
- Desire to work with technology (hardware and software)
- Willingness to go above and beyond
- Focus on achieving goals
- Commitment to work hard over the duration of the course
- Age 18 and above with a verifiable disability
Harper Bronson, Program Manager of Bridge Academy, emphasizes, “We really want to see people who love information technology, are enthusiastic, motivated, and want to be a part of this exciting program.”
To learn more about the program, students can register for one of the available informational sessions that are already in progress. For any questions, they can contact Harper (Lisa) Bronson, Program Manager of Bridge Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.