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

Become a Skilled Trade Worker with the Industrial Training Initiative

We are excited to announce a new session of the North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative, a fantastic free job-skills training program.  The new session of classes will begin in January 2023.

Are you interested in learning a skilled trade that will prepare you to work for local industrial employers? This may be the program for you. 

The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative (NBRITI) is sponsored by ExxonMobil and Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC). This program provides training, credentials, and job placement for students in four in-demand fields. 


  • Electrical – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Millwright – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Pipe Fitting – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Welding -upon successful completion, receive  X-ray certification


Each program is 52-weeks long, and classes meet twice per week from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The program also contains job placement assistance and career fair opportunities for its graduates. 


While the program is designed to fully prepare you for a career in your chosen field, successful students will display timeliness, attention to detail, and strict adherence to safety protocols.  


Written by Karla Stewart

Louisiana Workforce Commission/Coursera Partnership

free skills training, college-level courses, and certifications

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is partnering with Coursera in order to provide access to free courses and certifications on a wide variety of subjects ranging from basic technology skills to advanced programming. This means that a large catalog of Coursera courses is free to anyone who creates a HiRE account through the LWC. There are also courses covering business subjects, arts and humanities, language learning, personal development, healthcare, math, science and social sciences. There are over five thousand courses available through this collaboration, many of which grant you a professional certification.

What Is Coursera?

Coursera is one of the larger Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) websites, and provides courses that can be audited for free as well as paid for in order to obtain a certification. We have promoted Coursera, along with other MOOCs, on our website under Professional Development. However, it was always with the disclaimer that in order to obtain a certificate indicating that you have completed the course, you were required to pay for the course. This collaboration between the LWC and Coursera is eliminating that barrier for Louisiana residents. In order to access the Tech Ready Louisiana program, a HiRE account is necessary. In order to sign up for one; go to the landing page and click on the Tech Ready Louisiana banner in the middle of the page.

Creating a HiRE Account

If you do not have a HiRE account, click on “my HiRE account” as marked on this image by a red checkmark.

Then click the sign in button at the top of that page, and scroll down until you see the “create a user account” section where you can click “individual registration”.

The process of signing up for a HiRE account will take around 20 minutes, and will require knowing your Social Security number as well as having an email in order to sign up. If you have any questions about this step of the process, you can go to your local library and someone will be able to assist you. If you live in East Baton Rouge Parish, you can come to the Career Center inside the Main Library at 7711 Goodwood Boulevard, and we will be happy to assist you.

Signing Up for Coursera through LWA

After you have created a HiRE account, you click on the Tech Ready Louisiana banner, and you will arrive at a sign up page, where you can click on the “Enroll Now” button. You will be prompted to enter your name, your email and your HiRE username. Please use the name and email associated with your account, to make the process easier.

Once you press enroll now, you will have an email in your email inbox from the LWC with link to the Coursera/LWC landing page. You will have to press “join now” in both the email and on the landing page. This will provide you access to any of the courses within the catalog. In order to find courses, you are able to search using the search bar at the top. There is also an “Explore Careers” page which will list courses commonly associated with certain careers such as IT, bookkeeping and database management. Finally, you can also look at a variety of courses using the sections provided under the search bar. When you find a course you want to enroll in, you simply just press enroll and you are free to start the course! In order to see your enrolled courses, you can locate them under “my courses” on the landing page as well.

final thoughts

We hope that this service provides invaluable information and education to your job search experience and professional development. Also, as a disclaimer, it may take 1 -2 days to gain full access to the courses, so if the “enroll” button includes a 7-day trial, you do not have full access yet. If you have any further questions, you can reach out to the Career Center at 225-231-3733 or visit your local branch library for assistance.

Written by Kathryn Cusimano

Get Free Training Towards a New Career with Data Science for All

Careers in technology are increasingly popular due to the potential for competitive salaries and flexible schedules including the option to work remotely. But for people without a degree in computer science or a background in programming, jobs in the tech industry have seemed largely unattainable. Data Science for All is a program that provides pathways into the field for people from underrepresented groups.

What is Data Science for All?

Data Science for All (DS4A) is a free 14-week data analytics training program taught by industry professionals from top universities. All classes are virtual and live so that students can interact with instructors and with each other. Because it’s designed with students and working professionals in mind, classes are held on Saturdays. The program prepares participants for jobs in technology, finance, consulting, sales, marketing, engineering, research, product, and entrepreneurship. DS4A also connects students with mentors, job coaching, and career opportunities. Program graduates have landed jobs at companies like Target, Johnson & Johnson, and Amazon!

Who is eligible?

Eligible candidates include those who identify as Black, Latino/Latina, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, or LGBTQ+. The program is also open to military veterans, military spouses, and people with disabilities.

What skills will participants acquire?

Instructors will use real business scenarios and data to teach students skills that will prepare them for a career in data science. Topics covered in the program include:

  • SQL

How to apply:

When the application window opens, candidates can begin the process by visiting the website:

The two-step application process consists of a short (about 15 minutes) online application and an assessment that identifies your problem solving strategies. Those candidates selected to continue the application process based on their application and assessment, will be invited for a video interview. Join the mailing list to be notified when the application process for the next session will begin.

Written by Karla Stewart

Become a Skilled Trade Worker with the Industrial Training Initiative

Are you interested in learning a skilled trade that will prepare you to work for local industrial employers? This may be the program for you. 

The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative (NBRITI) is sponsored by ExxonMobile and Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC). This program provides training, credentials, and job placement for students in four in-demand fields. 


  • Electrical – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Millwright – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Pipe Fitting – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Welding -upon successful completion, receive  X-ray certification


Each program is 52-weeks long, and classes meet twice per week from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The program also contains job placement assistance and career fair opportunities for its graduates. 


While the program is designed to fully prepare you for a career in your chosen field, successful students will display timeliness, attention to detail, and strict adherence to safety protocols.  


Written by Karla Stewart

Covid Killed Your Career?  Rejuvenate It with a “Reboot”

If you’ve been laid off due to COVID, don’t miss this valuable opportunity to gain new job skills at a reduced cost through the Reboot Your Career Program.

What is it?

The Reboot Your Career program is designed to support workers who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 to re-train for available jobs on high-wage career pathways. Governor John Bel Edwards prioritized federal CARES Act funding for this critical initiative, which is available now through the spring of 2021.  So act fast!!! Learn more at their website.

How does it work?

Some of the great aspects of this program include:

  • Reduced tuition
  • No application fees
  • Short term training

After completion of the program and upon receipt of certification of completion there are monies set aside to reimburse tuition costs from $300 to $350 through EmployBR. Some of the most coveted programs within the craft division even include NCCER certifications.

What programs are offered?

There is a wide variety of in-demand training opportunities including: healthcare, transportation and logistics, information technology, manufacturing, construction, and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers.

You could get trained to become a nursing assistant, medical records and health information IT specialist, automotive body repairer, heavy equipment and tractor-trailer operator, truck driver, web developer, welder, structural metal fabricator, carpenter, electrician, or wastewater treatment plant operator, to name only a few.

A listing of all careers within this program is available here.

How do i apply?

To apply contact Ethel Germany at

Written by Cynthia Payton

Advancing Your Career with MOOCs

In February, the Career Center offered a seminar about MOOCs. In case you missed it, here are some of the main takeaways:

what is a mooc?

Imagine being able to go back to college – without all the expenses of tuition, room, and board. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are online college courses available to anyone with access to the internet. MOOCs can help you advance your career by learning in-demand skills. Many MOOCs are free – if you want to watch and learn. Many only charge fees if you want to earn a certificate or credential. MOOCs that allow you to earn a degree are more expensive – but even then they are less expensive than a degree program at most universities.

how can i use moocs to grow my career?

A growing number of businesses and companies recognize credentials from MOOCs. Many MOOCs are backed by prestigious universities and/or partner with prominent corporations. MOOCs can be an inexpensive way to learn new  skills that will help you grow in your own profession, or position yourself to transition to a new career. Here are a few tips to help your chances that an employer will appreciate your having taken a class.

  • Focus on courses that are clearly related to your field of work. For example, if you are a programmer, take courses on Python, rather than Tibetan Religion.
  • Earn a credential – such as a Certificate or Nanodegree or Series Specialization. These are usually not free but are still less expensive than tuition.
  • Take MOOC courses that are backed by prestigious universities. You can put the name of that university on your resume. For example: Verified Certificate of Business Leadership, Harvard School of Business (through Coursera), 2019

  • Make sure you can demonstrate the skills that the course teaches. Many MOOC courses or series of courses require you to turn in projects. What matters most to potential employers is that you can do it. If you take a MOOC course about Python programming, demonstrate that you can program in Python. Increasingly, employers care less about credentials and degrees, and more about what you can do.

the big five mooc companies


Coursera is perhaps the most prominent. Courses are free for registered users, although there are fees for different course licenses. You can earn Course Certificates, a Specialization Certificate (after taking a series of courses), and even full degrees such as a Master of Business Administration, Master of Computer Science.


EdX is another prominent MOOC. You can audit courses for free, or pay a modest fee to earn a certificate. You can earn a Certificate of Achievement, X-Series Certificate of Achievement, Micro-masters Course Credit, Professional Certificate, Micro-Bachelors, or even an Online Degree.


Although FutureLearn is one of the more prominent MOOCs, it is based in Great Britain and not well recognized outside Europe. You can pay $199/year for unlimited access. You can earn Micro-credentials and even online degrees (bachelors, masters, or post-graduate certificates which are more common in Europe).


Udacity is fairly well recognized because you can earn Nanodegrees (after taking a series of courses usually over 6-12 months). They are one of the more expensive MOOCs, charging $400/month or $1436 for four months.



With Udemy you can earn Certificates of completion. They charge modest fees for each course.

Final thoughts

If you are interested in advancing your career with MOOCs, do some research. Find out about the reputation of different MOOCs, how much employers recognize them, and which kinds of programs they offer. A good website to do research about MOOCs is MoocLab. It has articles and discussion boards where people sometimes debate the worth of different MOOCs and the credentials they offer.

Written by Rick Wright and Lynnette Lee

Career Pathways Program Returns!

Would you like to go back to school for more career skills training, but you just can’t afford it?

Three years ago, we wrote a blogpost about the Urban League’s Career Pathways Program, an innovative program that provided participants funding for college and vocational school. Today, we are pleased to announce the return of the Career Pathways Program!

Who’s doing it?

The Career Pathways Program is sponsored by the Office of Workforce Development, a department of the Urban League of Louisiana, which is the local chapter of the nonprofit National Urban League.

What help do they offer?

  • Tuition assistance towards an associate’s degree or vocational certification from Baton Rouge Community College or a local accredited vocational school.
  • Meetings with a personal case manager to help you determine your career path and monitor your progress during the schooling.
  • In-depth job skills training on subjects like resume writing and job interviews to help you find a job in your new field once you graduate.

What kinds of degrees do they help with?

The program is only available for degrees/certifications in high-demand industries, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Computer & Information Technology
  • NCCER Construction
  • Customer Service
  • Retail

How do I register and qualify?

The Baton Rouge office is currently accepting applicants. To register, you can:

  • Pre-apply online at
  • Call (225) 831-1501
  • Visit them at 445 N. 12th St. in downtown Baton Rouge.

To qualify, you will need to:

  • Provide the following documentation: a state-issued ID, your Social Security card, your birth certificate, proof of residence, and proof of income.
  • Take a TABE assessment, which Urban League will provide.
  • Agree to complete 4 weeks of career readiness skills training at the Urban League office.

Written by Lynnette Lee

College Scholarships: What You Need to Know

The Career Center recently hosted a seminar on helpful tips when applying for scholarships. Guest presenter Meagan Davenport, an academic counselor with experience in college advising, offered insights about what she has learned throughout her experience of interacting with high school students. Here are some of the main takeaways in case you missed it:

why is this important?

Paying for college is a problem that has become all too common. Students are taking out more loans in order to get a degree that is needed in today’s workforce. In 2018, the average student graduated college with at least $37,000 in loans with an interest rate of 5%. Scholarships have become more necessary as the struggle to pay for college grows. Applying to scholarships can relieve some of the financial burdens of going to college.

When do I start looking for scholarships?

You should ideally start looking at scholarships at the beginning of your senior year. There are scholarships available at the beginning of the year that continue yearlong. The earlier you are able to start applying for scholarships, the more scholarships you will be able to apply to.

Helpful tips:

This is all a numbers game. The more scholarships you apply for, the more money you could potentially be awarded. It gets easier after your first 7 applications. Make a deadline list or calendar to keep track of all of the scholarship due dates. This will help you prioritize your scholarship applications.

Start with the easiest ones to fill out. There are some scholarships for which you only need to fill in your information without any essay, recommendation letter, or other attachments. These are less time consuming and can easily be completed in one sitting. When you are on a scholarship website, fill out the optional questions and use the filters. Students who do this are twice as likely to find more scholarships.

Do not be afraid of those small amount scholarships. These are less competitive scholarships, so you have a better chance of winning small amounts. Every dollar you receive in scholarships can help. Those small amounts can easily help pay for textbooks.

Apply to the essay scholarships! Considering a lot of students do not like to write essays, there is a smaller selection pool for these opportunities. This gives you a higher chance of earning money for college. The essay should fit the theme of the scholarship and should include personal aspects, such as achievements, issues you feel strongly about, academic plans or major of study, or mentors and influences in your life. Make the structure and foundation of your essay reusable so that you do not have to write a whole new essay for each scholarship.

Have a professional email address to use for scholarships as well as college applications. Clean up your social media as well. Although colleges may not look at your social media accounts, some of your college jobs or work study opportunities might. It is just good practice to have a clean social media account and email address.

online resources:

Beware of scam websites! You should never have to pay money to get scholarship money. These are not true scholarship websites. You can also connect with your school counselor about local scholarship opportunities.

Here are some legitimate scholarship websites that are very user-friendly and helpful:

Written by Meagan Davenport

Freshman Year for Free™

Do you want to get the equivalent of a year of college for free?

This might just be possible through the relatively new and innovative non-profit organization Modern States Education Alliance. Modern States is not a college and does not grant college credit directly. Instead they are taking advantage of the college credit by exam system, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP).

how it works

Modern States partnered with top universities and created online courses that prepare students for the AP and CLEP exams. The online courses claim to teach in a few weeks what the same college courses would take one or two semesters to achieve. These online classes are basically test prep courses. However, it is entirely free to register and take them. After completing a class it is then up to the student to register for and take the respective AP or CLEP exam on their own. Through a voucher system Modern States will reimburse the exam fees. This way it is possible to take a year’s worth of college credit entirely for free. Take a look

a word of caution

Modern States is open about not every college accepting AP and CLEP credits. They include a feature on the website where you can check which university accepts those credits, and, in the case of AP, what the minimum acceptable score is.  In any case it is recommended that you check with your college of choice directly also. While some colleges do accept CLEP and AP, they might be limiting the number of credits they are willing to honor. Or they might accept AP/CLEP for Biology but not for Calculus for example. The website will not go into such detail for each institution.


Regardless of the above concerns, this is a legitimate way for many students to start working towards a college degree. It can be useful to current high school students or recent grads, as well as adults who are looking to start college for the first time or continue their previously interrupted studies. Current college students who wish to get through their degree faster than the normal four years could benefit from this initiative as well.

If you are unsure where your college or career path will take you, the Career Center can help. You can call us at 225-231-3733 or visit in person at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. We also have a number of CLEP study guides available for checkout.

Written by Anne Nowak