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Calbright’s New “Career Readiness” Program Designed To Help Students Master Job Searches

What if the skills people need to get a better career in California are the skills they already have – and they just don’t know it?

You can’t leverage something you don’t know you have.

Picture a barista.  She has no degree, but she’s great at her job. She wants to go into tech, but assumes she can’t do it without a degree and doesn’t have the skills employers are looking for – and that college is out of reach.  

Calbright College interviewed workers in key roles in growing industries across California to figure out how we could support her.  We asked about the skills jobs in growth industries require, where they come from, and how they’re recognized by employers. This allows us to design programs that address the real challenges people face in the employment market today. 

After consulting with workers, employers, and economic experts across California, we’ve realized that the first work we must do to open new pathways into growing industries is to help potential students recognize their own abilities. 

The skills that make our barista great at her job – her ability to juggle multiple tasks at once;  to connect and communicate with people under pressure;  to follow processes meticulously;  to work with the public;  to improvise when things to wrong;  to keep her head steady when things get crazy; to use technology like digital cash registers and ordering systems – are all skills that employers are looking for.  Employers are confident that people who have those skills will be able to learn the tech.  

Across California, companies with high-paying job openings are looking for people like her.  They’re looking for people who excel at their jobs in retail; who keep stock rooms running; who deliver goods; who keep their families on track. All these people have skills high-paying employers want.  

What people like this often don’t know is how to identify and articulate their own transferable skills, find companies that are looking to hire people with these skills, and then apply multifaceted job search approaches to access company hiring representatives, and navigate the employment processes.

That’s why Calbright has developed its Career Readiness course.  While Calbright students are learning technical skills that employers are looking for, they’ll also be learning the crucial job search and “soft skills” needed to choose a job, get a job, and thrive in it.  

“Students will be taught how to identify key qualities and characteristics in themselves to help them make career decisions and articulate their strengths to employers.” said Calbright Faculty Instructor Ashley Odell, who designed and teaches the program. 

“They will also be given instruction on how to develop the key competencies employers say they look for including growth mindset, motivation, adaptability, organization and time management, communication skills, collaboration, taking initiative, customer focus, and goal setting. The course applies concepts from the field of positive psychology to help students deeply examine how and why they work and helps build mindsets that will allow them not only to be successful, but to be happy in their jobs.” Odell said. 

Students will also have access to all of Calbright’s wrap-around support services, which will further apply the foundational knowledge from the class to specific industries.  

Like all of Calbright’s programs, it’s free for Californians.   

“Calbright sits at a unique nexus between the labor market and higher education, which gives us the ability to build programs that are more responsive to – and predictive of – employer needs,” said Calbright College President Ajita Talwalker Menon. “We have gone deeper to interview workers in key roles – and to connect the dots to design programs that address the real challenges people face in the employment market today.”

Focused on helping students know themselves, know the job market, and know how to present themselves in it, Calbright’s Career Readiness program is guided by our research about what works. Students take it while they’re enrolled in their technical programs learning industry specific, skills. It’s grounded in best practices and evidence based approaches including NACE Career Readiness Competencies, ETA Competency Models, the C-BEN Quality Framework for Competency Based Education Programs, and more.  It can be taken remotely, at the students’ own pace, on their own devices. Or, if they don’t have computer hardware and wi-fi access, Calbright will loan it to them – again, free of charge.

“That’s what it means to be a student-first institution, keeping our population, and their unique needs, at the forefront of everything that we do,” Menon said.

It’s part of Calbright’s mission, funded by the State of California, to connect the “stranded workers” in our state with its 21st century prosperity.  

To learn more about Calbright, or sign up for focused, self-paced, classes to learn in-demand skills, visit

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