Get Your Small Business Going with the Startup Accelerator Program

Starting a small business requires more than hard work – it requires a shrewd business acumen. Now, Baton Rouge has a new low-cost option for gaining that know-how.

A new training program for startups has been created by a partnership between the LSU Innovation, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and Nexus Louisiana. This program is building upon the IDEAinstitute program established by the Idea Village 4 years ago and has provided training for over 300 founders. These three companies also came together to publish the Startup City magazine for 2022-2023 discussing local entrepreneurs and companies. We will give a brief overview of the program as well as each of these companies.

The Training Program

This training program will be 10 weeks and will closely follow the IDEAinstitute program which leads you from deciding on a great startup idea in week 1 to pitching your startup in week 10. In between, there are weekly learning modules, weekly zoom calls, one-on-one coaching and guest speakers. This program is hybrid so participation can be done long-distance as well as in-person. This program will teach you various skills such as asking the right questions, creating a business model, and building and presenting your pitch. Participating in this program will also help build connections with a community of peers and mentors locally and across the region.

Application Process

You can apply for the next IDEAinstitute cohort that begins in mid-April at this link. This program will require a payment of $285 but there is the option to apply for partial and full scholarships. The application process is relatively straightforward, but you will need to have an idea, invention or venture planned before applying to the program. If you need any assistance filling out this application, we at the Career Center will be glad to help. You can also learn more about small business in general through the Small Business Services department at the Main Library on Goodwood.

About LSU Innovation

The LSU Innovation works with researchers at LSU to help evaluate, protect and license any intellectual property created at LSU. The office strives to advance innovation by helping faculty, supporting research, and working with entrepreneurs and businesses to make these inventions commercial. Essentially, they aim to help entrepreneurs interested in starting a company with LSU intellectual property as well as build relationships with the Baton Rouge business community.

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is an organization with a focus on economic development in the Capital Region including Ascension, EBR, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Helena and WBR parishes. BRAC runs the BR Works website which helps local jobseekers find jobs that work best for them. They also run the Riverbend Research program which provides consulting and analysis for businesses. There is also a political action committee conducted within BRAC called FuturePAC which focuses on economic development issues. BRAC is funded by local Capital Region businesses that invest into this program.

About NexusLA

Nexus Louisiana is a company that strives to provide resources for high tech start-up companies and accelerate growth of those companies. They focus on regional collaboration to connect local entrepreneurs with the coaching, capital and connections they need to grow and succeed.

About the Idea Village

The Idea Village supports local entrepreneurs as well as elevates New Orleans’s reputation as a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and business. This company helps entrepreneurs build innovative and industry-leading companies that generate revenue and jobs. Their goal is to create a more resilient and vibrant local economy.

If you have any further questions, we can do our best to assist you here at the Career Center! Come by in person at 7711 Goodwood Boulevard, call us at 223-231-3733 or email us at

Written by Kathryn Cusimano

February 2023 YouTube Roundup

The frivolity of Christmas and the indulgences of Mardi Gras are behind us. Now it is the grim Lenten season, a time for reflection, sacrifice. . . .and some pretty dreary weather to boot. But don’t despair – your friends at the Career Center are still here to help you through the tough times of your job search. Here are some of our latest offerings:

Resources for ex-offenders PLAYLIST

HOW ex-offenders can answer, “Why should we hire a convicted felon?”

This question is a little blunt, but it is honest: employers will worry that they are taking a risk by hiring someone with a criminal record. In this video, Career Specialist Lynnette Lee and guest presenter David Laatsch demonstrate how you can address those concerns and reassure employers of why you’d be an asset to their company.

common job applications PLAYLIST

How to apply for a job at performance contractors

In this video, Career Specialist Andre de la Fuente shows the step-by-step process of completing an online job application for industrial construction firm Performance Contractors.

resumes before and after PLAYLIST

Resume quick tips: how to write a good summary or objective

This video is part of our Resumes Before and After series, which showcases common resume mistakes and our recommended solutions. In this video, Certified Professional Resume Writer Anne Nowak takes a look at the opening section of the resume – the objective or summary section – and demonstrates how to use this section to grab employers’ attention and convince them of your relevant skills.

Written by Lynnette Lee

The Book Review: The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need

finding your path and growing your career. . . .with a comic book!

Many people have faced a lack of clarity about their career path and goals. This uncertainty can happen at any point in your career journey — whether you are just starting out with your first career or considering changing careers after investing years. If you are not sure where to start with determining your next step, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, which is a graphic novel, is a fantastic resource to assist you in your journey and is presented in a very refreshing format.

The premise of The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is summed up into six lessons about work, careers and achieving personal success. Despite being released 14 years ago, it is still a fantastic and appealing delivery of some basic, but essential, career guidance and can serve as a great jumping off point in determining your path. In fact, the very first chapter discusses making plans and the degree to which you should let those plans affect your path.

There is No Plan

Most people make sure that they have a career plan and a list of goals in order to achieve their dream career. However, these plans are never foolproof, and sticking to them too much can blind you to other potential paths and choices. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko does not state that these plans are pointless, but rather it suggests that plans should have flexibility and choices can be valuable to your journey in more ways than one. One way that a choice can be helpful is that it can highlight your strengths and talents, and that is valuable information to obtain in your career journey.

Focus on Strengths Not Weaknesses

It is very common that people end up in jobs that may not suit their strengths but in fact rely on their weaknesses. While weaknesses may be improved through practice and training, it would be much more beneficial to instead work on those tasks that rely on your strengths. The Adventures of Jonny Bunko goes into further detail about how to determine what your strengths are and how to apply those to your career choice. Applying your strengths to your job will give you a sense of satisfaction not just in your career path but in your personal life through helping others.

It is Not About You

It is important for our careers to bring us some sense of happiness and satisfaction; however, we should also remember that doing our jobs help others in some shape or fashion. This is true whether you work a customer- or patron-facing job or in a corporate office. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko discusses how to take your strengths in the job and use them to help people and improve the lives of others. It is essential to remember that in order to improve the lives of others, we need to improve our own skills and talent.

Persistence Trumps Talent

When we think about athletes and musicians and other talented people, we also have to consider the time and effort they have put into their skills. While there may be many talented people in a given field, it is only the truly diligent ones that achieve incredibly high levels of success. So The Adventures of Johnny Bunko makes the point that even if you are working in a job that suits your strengths and talents, you must also work on improving your skills and applying them. A great way to improve your skills is through making excellent mistakes and learning from them.

Make Excellent Mistakes

It is so terrifying making mistakes that most of us try to avoid making any in our careers and our personal lives. Mistakes, however, are essential to improving our knowledge and giving us the opportunity to move forward and on to better things. Mistakes are a part of our lives, and we are always learning from them, so it is important to make mistakes in our careers from time to time. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko details the kinds of mistakes that you can learn from and how to make sure that you make excellent mistakes. Most importantly, mistakes can lead to truly impactful discoveries and make a change somewhere and for someone.

Leave an Imprint

When a person reaches a certain age, they look back on their lives, and at that point, how they feel about their choices will affect how they approach the remainder of their lives. So, it can be important for a person to feel that they have made an impact at some point in their life, no matter how small or big. A great way to make a mark is through your career, especially when your career is something where you are able to apply your strengths, help others, and achieve great levels of success. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko will ask you to consider this question: What kind of a mark do you want to make, and how will you make it?

final thoughts

I hope that the message of this book speaks to you, and if you want to know more about each of these lessons and how they can affect your career search and exploration, then please feel free borrow this novel from the Career Center in the Main Library on Goodwood! This book is just one of many fantastic career guidance books we have in our catalog. If you want some additional help in determining your career, we provide career coaching as well. Just call 225-231-3733 to set up an appointment and we would be happy to be a part of your career journey!

Written by Kathryn Cusimano

January 2023 YouTube Roundup

The new year has rung in with force! Here in the Career Center, we’ve been busy as bees, assisting patrons through one-on-one guidance, seminars, blogposts. . . .and of course, YouTube videos. Check out our newest offerings here:

Resources for ex-offenders PLAYLIST

HOW ex-offenders can answer, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Employers want to see that you can think ahead and plan for the future. This is especially true for the formerly incarcerated, since it gives you a chance to prove that you’re serious about staying out of trouble. In this video, Career Specialist Lynnette Lee and guest presenter David Laatsch demonstrate how you can discuss your goals, aspirations, and plans to showcase your commitment and rehabilitation.

common job applications PLAYLIST

How to apply for a job at costco

Warehouse chain Costco has a reputation for treating its employees well. In this video, Career Specialist Karla Stewart aims to help you become one of those well-treated employees by demonstrating the step-by-step process for completing the Costco application.

THIS MONTH’S SPOTLIGHT: THE resumes before and after PLAYLIST

In this collection of short videos, our Certified Professional Resume Writers demonstrate common resume mistakes and ways to fix them. Each video features a real (anonymized) resume we received for review – the “before” – and the improved version of the resume we created – the “after.”

Written by Lynnette Lee

A Guide to the Rights of a Jobseeker with a Disability: Accommodations

This is the second part of a series of articles addressing the issues faced by workers with disabilities. Read Part 1 here.

First Step in the Process

Let’s discuss requesting accommodations under the ADA from an employer. This can be done at any point including but not limited to:

  • During the application period
  • Once the job has been offered
  • After beginning employment
  • After being employed for any amount of time

It is entirely up to the applicant when they may want to request accommodations and, as a result, reveal that they have a disability. If an accommodation is needed during the interview, the employer is required to provide that accommodation as long as it is reasonable. A few examples of requests would be:

  • Requesting an interpreter or reader (either in-person or virtually)
  • An accessible location (at any point during the process)
  • Technological aids such as screen readers or captioning
  • Changing aspects of the facility such as office locations

If you feel that you need an accommodation for any step in the process, it is best to request the accommodation as soon as possible to provide the employer time to either obtain what is needed or make arrangements for any changes needed for equal access. Every step of this process is entirely up to you; and it is your choice to decide when you want to disclose the presence of a disability or request accommodations. It is also your right to determine which accommodations you feel give you the best ability to perform the job. It is important to clarify that you do not have to fully disclose or explain your disability. The employer is only obligated to know the tasks you are limited in or unable to perform and how the accommodations would ensure your ability to perform those tasks.

Being specific in your accommodations and how they will assist you is your right and will benefit you. Many employers may have never employed someone who needs the kind of accommodations you are requesting. It is also recommended to have a letter detailing the accommodation and the task to give the employer the most information in order for them to determine how they can best assist you.

Requesting Testing Accommodations

Another area where accommodations can be requested is for any testing material. If the test does not measure the skill affected by the disability, then the employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations. For example, a proofreading position may have a written test, the employer would not be required to provide an alternative testing method to someone who is dyslexic, because an essential job function is the ability to read written material.

If the test is on an applicant’s knowledge or requires a skill that is not an essential job function, they are required to provide an alternative version of the test or another type of accommodation. Some examples of testing accommodations are:

  • Extra time to take the test
  • An interpreter or reader for the test instructions and questions
  • An accessible location for testing
  • A different format of the test such as audiotape or digital versus paper

Defining Reasonable Accommodations

What is considered to be a reasonable accommodation? Any accommodation that equalizes access to the facility or any other resource needed for those with disabilities. This can be anything that makes the facility more accessible, a change in some peripheral duties of the job, acquiring or modifying equipment and devices, changes to training materials or policies, provision of readers or interpreters, or any other accommodation needed by the applicant or employee. An accommodation can also be a change in scheduling or more flexibility in sick time.

In some cases, an employer can refuse an accommodation request if they claim that it will cause an undue hardship on the operation of the business. An undue hardship can be defined as excessively costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive. The employer is required to attempt to offer an accommodation that achieves a similar result if possible as well as prove that providing the requested accommodation is unreasonable. The business is also not required to provide any personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids. Finally, the accommodation cannot be anything that lowers the quality or quantity standards expected of other abled employees.

What Happens After the Request?

After requesting an accommodation, you may have to discuss things further with the employer, especially if they are unfamiliar with the disability and what accommodations are needed for that disability. You may have to explain why the accommodation is needed in order to determine what the best accommodation is for the situation. You may also have to explain why some accommodations are not acceptable depending on your experience with your disability.

For example, someone who is blind asks for an accommodation for a test, and the employer offers a braille version of the test. This may work for some people who have learned how to read braille, but not every blind person has learned this skill. In this case, an applicant may prefer to have someone read them the questions and the possible answers. An employer can provide a similar accommodation such as an audiotape version of the test which would be a reasonable accommodation in this situation.

Another example would be for a deaf applicant who is offered a captionist or some form of written material. Not every deaf person has an ability to read well or fast enough to use written material. In that case, they would have to have a sign language interpreter to be able to understand the material as well as a hearing person would.

Please stay tuned for further articles discussing the rights of jobseekers with disabilities.

Written by Kathryn Cusimano

DISCLAIMER: The Career Center is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice. The general information on our site is for basic informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice of any kind.

A Guide to the Rights of a Jobseeker with a Disability: Overview

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted July 26th, 1990, over 30 years ago. This law was designed to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. The ADA is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While the ADA covers every aspect of society from employment to public services and accommodations to telecommunications, this post will focus on the employment rights provided by this act.


The ADA defines what qualifies as a disability. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. This definition also applies to a person who has a record of a disability. Finally, a person who is regarded as having an impairment, meaning a person that is discriminated against because someone thinks that their impairment (or perceived impairment) is limiting is also protected by the ADA. A major life activity can include, but is not limited to, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, speaking, learning, reading and working. This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor does one exist.

Some disabilities are obvious, such as visibility impairments, mobility disabilities (using a wheelchair or other mobility aids), and deafness. There are also other disabilities that are not as obvious, such as learning disabilities and psychological/psychiatric disabilities. The ADA can apply to various learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia if the symptoms are enough to limit the person’s major life activities. Psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or schizophrenia also can be considered disabilities, as long as the symptoms are limiting in some capacity. It is important to point out that regardless of the disability, active self-advocacy is the best way to ensure your protections under the ADA.


In order to be protected under the ADA, you must have a disability as defined above. You must also be a qualified individual, which means that you can perform the essential functions of the employment position with or without accommodation. The employer is the one that defines the essential functions either verbally or with a written description. You also have to meet any other defined criteria such as education and work experience requirements. If you are a qualified individual, then you must be considered for the position along with any other applicants.

All of these rights are also afforded to anyone who is directly related to or a caretaker of someone who is defined as having a disability. So, you can be protected against discrimination if your child, spouse, or parent is someone who has a disability.


A person who is protected under the ADA cannot be discriminated against during the job application process. Discrimination can include limiting or classifying a job applicant or employee in a way that affects the applicant’s job prospects or opportunities. This can be as overt as refusing to finish an interview with that person or refusing to hire them on the basis of their disability. It can also be as subtle as not having an accessible flyer with easy-to-read wording placed in a location that is accessible. Inaccessible application processes or websites are also prohibited. Testing also cannot include any criteria that may identify disabilities unless that job requires the ability to do a certain task. For example, unless the job requires 20/20 vision, a test that excludes applicants based on their visual acuity is not legal.

Employers are also not able to ask whether you have a disability during the application process, but they can ask whether you need an accommodation in order to complete the application or interview. These points will be discussed in further detail on in future posts which will detail how and when to request accommodations during the application process as well as how to prepare for an interview as a person with a disability.

Written by Kathryn Cusimano

DISCLAIMER: The Career Center is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice. The general information on our site is for basic informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice of any kind.