Home > Community > Slack Chat: Shonna Dorsey, Brent Comstock on JumpstartLabs for tech talent training

Slack Chat: Shonna Dorsey, Brent Comstock on JumpstartLabs for tech talent training


The 2016 cohort of JumpstartLabs. Photo courtesy of Shonna Dorsey.

This summer BCom Solutions and Interface Web School announced the launch of JumpstartLabs, an education program designed to help unemployed and underemployed adults get tech skills training that will lead to their next job and a new career. JSL serves participants in Nebraska’s CONNECT program, a federally funded grant that helps unemployed workers transition into IT careers. 

SPN invited BCom Solutions founder Brent Comstock and Interface Web School Managing Director Shonna Dorsey to hop on Slack and chat a bit about their partnership together and the impact JumpstartLabs has had so far.

shonnadorsey: So Brent. How are you?

bcomstock: I’m great! Wheels spinning at 100 MPH, but great. You?

shonnadorsey: Pretty good, all things considered! How long have we known each other now? We met through Jeff Spiehs, right? He is so awesome.

bcomstock: It’s definitely been at least 3 years. Yes, I think Jeff was the connection. Haven’t talked to him in FOREVER!

shonnadorsey: We should do a little reunion sometime. Thanks to you both for serving on the advisory board for Interface, by the way. Your input and contributions have been awesome and I am terrible at asking for help. Haha!

bcomstock: Happy to do it — It’s exciting to see ways in which the advisory board can help contribute to Interface’s great programs and forge new partnerships!

shonnadorsey: Yes! Speaking of new partnerships. JumpstartLabs…

bcomstock: Oh, you mean that awesome new program that brings together Interface, BCom Solutions, and the Department of Labor’s CONNECT Grant program to provide enriching tech education and employment opportunities to various communities?

shonnadorsey: That’s the one! We’ve been working on putting this type of program together for a little while. I’m grateful for your partnership on this. It’s changing people’s lives.

What’s your favorite or some of your favorite things about the program?

bcomstock: Favorite thing: seeing real impact. So many organizations and companies (BCom included) have “social responsibility” programs in place. But sometimes it is hard to see that direct impact. I always ask myself how we can “do better.” Seeing the impact that our team(s) are having on the lives of these “student adults” is so exciting.

What about you? Any story in particular about JSL thus far that’s making you excited?

shonnadorsey: Yes, our students are so diverse. I love their backgrounds, perspectives, commitment, dedication, openness and sense of humor. We also have an excellent instructor, Sourabh Chakraborty. What I am most excited about is that we are surrounding these folks with all kinds of support to help them be successful.

bcomstock: Yeah! Any specific student stories you think worth highlighting? Or maybe a general composite of the class?

shonnadorsey: David Dugger – he manages a blog about his struggles getting out of homelessness. The Department of Labor grant has been life changing for him and this program is giving him a jumpstart.

Miranda Tharp is another great example of perseverance. Miranda is a single mom of 3 young children who is using this training and internship opportunity to transform her life and the lives of her kids. Super proud of all of the students selected to participate in this program.

bcomstock: That’s so awesome! How long does the program last?

shonnadorsey: 11 weeks. Started 9/12 and ends the Monday after Thanksgiving. Can you tell me about the projects students are working on for BCom Solutions?

bcomstock: Absolutely — we have a lot of different projects going on. The best part about all of this is that the projects are impacting real clients, real organizations, and real people. Everything learned in this program is being applied directly. Some students may be working on taking a web site wireframe and coding it into a beautiful WordPress site. Other students are likely working on converting older sites to a more modern, user friendly web site.

While they’re mainly working on the development end of the website, we’re working hard to make sure these students also get to experience the other side of our business: building relationships and connecting communities. They’re seeing how we manage client calls, the design process, and the relationship building that takes place to be successful in the web industry.

I really think that’s what sets this apart from any other “paid internship” or “workshop” of some sort — we’re going all in with these students. It’s a win-win — win for us, win for them, win for the community.

@shonnadorsey — Can you talk about a “week in the life” of a JSL student?

shonnadorsey: Yes – Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons are spent with instructor Sourabh Chakraborty learning/reinforcing new web development concepts. During this course, students learn HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript frameworks and libraries. There is a lot of material to cover, so homework is a necessary component for this to work and also reflects a real world scenario where developers are always learning/refining their craft.

An additional up to 20 hours per week is dedicated to the internship portion of the course. During this timeframe, students apply concepts learned in the classroom to projects for BCom Solutions.

bcomstock: That’s awesome! What happens for students after the program “ends?”

shonnadorsey: Select students will be offered positions with BCom Solutions. We are working with partners interested in interviewing Junior Front-End Web Developer candidates.

Interface will be highly involved in the placement process. We are super excited and committed to helping these folks land new positions upon graduation.

bcomstock: Awesome! So — last question… if I’m interested in joining the program OR learning more, what should I do?

shonnadorsey: Go to http://jumpstartlabs.co/! Or email me (or you!) at shonna@interfaceschool.com or brent@bcomonline.com

bcomstock: Sweet. This is really exciting.

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