As a new school year begins, more than 60 students are taking part in the Business Information Worker certificate program thanks to planning and partnerships over the past year.
The ICT-Digital Media Sector partnered with the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CHCC) to recruit students for the new BIW cohort programs at Cuesta College, Golden West College, Irvine Valley College, and West Hills College Lemoore. Students will complete courses in computer skills, business communication, and other skills that are essential for entry-level office employment.
The cohort approach allows students to receive support from each other as they move through the courses. Participating colleges worked with their local Hispanic Chambers to recruit underserved minorities and adults who need to obtain foundational business technology skills needed to re-enter the workforce.
College staff attended chamber networking events, and chambers promoted the BIW program on their websites and through social media. The Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (OCHCC) partnered with Golden West College and Irvine Valley College on several events throughout the summer months, including networking breakfasts and a business expo.
Irvine Valley College also hosted a networking breakfast for OCHCC members at its new Advanced Technology and Education Park facility in Tustin.
“We are excited to work with Orange County businesses and organizations to help grow the future workforce,” said Dr. Roopa Mathur, professor of Computer Information Management and chair of the School of Business Sciences at IVC. “The BIW certificate program will help our students develop in key areas of digital fluency so they can be successful in their careers.”
The OC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held their monthly meeting at the IDEA at ATEP
Representatives from West Hills College Lemoore attended Amigo Luncheons and Networking Mixers hosted by the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber and the Central California Hispanic Chamber.
Instructors also posted BIW collateral around campus, met with high school students and, in the case of Cuesta College Business Education Instructor Amity Perry, took to campus sidewalks to promote the program during new student orientation.
BIW flyer posted at Cuesta College
“Standing in the middle of campus and helping new students with directions also resulted in a few enrollments,” Perry said. “I’m proud to be part of the team that created the Business Information Worker Career Pathway at Cuesta providing students with the hands-on experience and career support they will need to be successful as computer technology becomes an ever- increasing part of the business environment.”
While there wasn’t a Hispanic Chamber available to work with Cuesta College, Perry was able to secure a partnership with the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce.
BIW instructors at each campus also worked with their marketing departments, adult education colleagues and CalWORKS/Student Services to target new students, particularly those without a clear direction already identified.
From Interested to Enrolled
Participating colleges also took a hands-on approach in the enrollment process. Project Manager, Nicole Sherman helped each college create a BIW-specific landing page where prospective students provided contact information that was used to establish a one-on-one connection with a college representative. Instructors and advisers made personal phone and email contact and offered to meet with students in person to help them through the application and enrollment process.
Each of the participating colleges will hold a special kickoff event for its BIW cohort at the beginning of the fall semester. These events will give students an overview of the program and allow them to meet their instructors and chamber representatives.
Cuesta College BIW Cohort Students attend Kick-Off Event
At the Cuesta College kick-off, students received special toolkits that were created specifically for them. The kits included notebooks, pens, pencils, information about the college and the BIW program, and a little college swag to start developing the sense of pride that comes with being a college student.
All of these efforts represent ways that the people involved with the BIW program are thinking outside the box to create new opportunities for students and new partnerships within the community.
“Students today are benefitting from everything that a community college can offer: challenging courses, flexible scheduling, financial and career services, mentorships with faculty, internships with industry, and an environment that they can network and grow toward a fulfilling career,” said Carolina Kussoy, an associate professor at Irvine Valley College. “BIW is the fast-track for students on this journey.”
For more information about the BIW cohort project, contact Nicole Sherman at or visit www.biweducators.org.