Ashley A Smith
May 10, 2023
For the first time since it opened, Calbright College isn’t facing an attempt to shut its doors – amid much criticism. In fact, the state’s online-only community college has launched its first apprenticeship partnership.
In April, the college announced that its first group of nine students would be placed in a yearlong paid tech apprenticeship in customer relationship management skills with Fresno-based Bitwise Industries, which bridges people from underserved communities to tech companies. It’s the first such apprenticeship offered by Calbright to its students, who tend to be older, working adults seeking certifications to help them move to higher-paying jobs.
Paige Davis, 36, who moved from Oklahoma to Sacramento in September, enrolled in Calbright in January to earn her customer relationship management certificate. Davis, one of the nine Bitwise apprentices, had her sights set on getting the apprenticeship as soon as she learned about the opportunity, she said.
Davis, who has worked various odd jobs, said she focused on finishing the certificate quickly to get a better-paying job.
“I did the program really fast … but I knew I had to put in the work in order to get where I wanted to be,” Davis said, adding that the certificate can usually take eight to 10 months to complete. “It’s just me in California, and I don’t have a lot of family, and I don’t have a large support system, so if something fails, I can’t just call a friend. I had to make sure that I’m stable and safe and all of those things that you hope to be as an adult.”
Calbright, which opened its doors to students in October 2019, is a free, self-paced alternative to traditional colleges. The college uses a competency-based education model that assesses students based on their skills, not the amount of time they spend in a class. Students can also earn certificates in information technology and cybersecurity.