FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Bobbianne Anderson personifies the link between Blue Jacket’s two locations in Fort Wayne.
While she is now the assistant manager at the Blue Jacket Clothing Company in Coldwater Crossing, her life was changed at the Blue Jacket Career Academy on South Calhoun.
“They were the light at the end of the tunnel,” she says, fighting back tears. “I love Blue Jacket. They were there for me the whole time that I was struggling.”
Anderson connected with Blue Jacket through her church in 2016 at a time she struggled with mental health and was unable to work.
“I got the right people around me and got the right medication, the right doctor, and now I’m the assistant manager.”
The Blue Jacket Career Academy helps anyone overcome their barriers to obtain meaningful employment in any field of work.
“Our job is to help you work through that and figure out what’s going on,” says Lindsey Lortie, Blue Jacket’s Director of Programming. “Then (we) get you to a place where employment is possible.”
We talk about resumes, cover letters, interviewing, but really it’s about skills. Career Academy is about discovery: discovering who you are, what you want to do, what you’re good at, and then, what do I have to do to get to where I want to go? Blue Jacket’s job is just to help you get there, create a plan, figure out what to do and then, ‘how do I make sure that my barriers aren’t going to be huge and getting in my way of where I want to go?’– Lindsey Lortie, Blue Jacket Career Academy
Participants pay $10 for Career Academy.
“And that’s $10 total,” Lortie says quickly. “Not $10 a day, not $10 a week, just $10.”
Fundraising by Blue Jacket covers the other $600. Roughly 80% of people who enroll go on to graduate.
“Career Academy itself is our vetting tool,” says Lortie. “If you’re really committed then you’re going to make it through the two week program.”
Four out of five graduates find work within 90 days.
“Upon graduation you’re then eligible to work with our in-house staffing agency, Blue Jacket Staffing,” Lortie adds. “Then we start looking for that job for you.”
Blue Jacket has developed deep relationships with numerous employers who see Blue Jacket clients as vetted and motivated. Blue Jacket will expand its network when clients want to take a less common career path.
“Just yesterday one of our clients came in to let us know that he just completed his doctorate,” Lortie beams. “He went through Career Academy and said it gave him the confidence he needed to move forward.”
Anderson knew she wanted to work for the people who helped her.
“They decided that they were going to open up a new store and things just worked out for me,” she says. “I was ready and available at the time and so I started when the new store opened.”
Blue Jacket Clothing Company sells second hand professional clothes for men and women. The store serves as a chance to work for graduates of the Career Academy and also makes sure graduates are dressed for success as they interview and begin their new professions. The clothing is included in the $10 price.
“Blue Jacket is compassionate, caring, forgiving and non-judgmental,” encourages Anderson. “You can go there and not have to feel any type of way. They accept everybody and you’re important to them.”