In 2012, a transitioning Veteran went to an Austin job fair and in the hopes of finding employment after a long tour of duty. Transitioning Veterans need paying jobs quickly and companies at this job fair were seeking the specialized skills held by this motivated, purpose-driven work force. Bridge360 was there, interviewing Veterans to fill open tech positions, with the intent to hire experienced IT talent. It quickly became clear that the Veterans attending this event were not a perfect match to the jobs available.
Bridge360 saw this as an opportunity and responded by creating a tailored, fast-track training program to teach returning Veterans how to be Software Quality Assurance Engineers. Four years later, Veterans4Quality® is a Texas registered 501(c)(3) non-profit with more than 100 graduates. And that 2012 transitioning Veteran? That’s Ron MacKay, now Executive Director of this unique program.
Veterans4Quality began as an idea to fill jobs by teaching Veterans the skills needed as Software Quality Assurance Engineers. There was no vocational training program available nor did any university offer classes in QA. So, Bridge360 employees came together to design the 11-week courseware to be taught by Austin area industry leaders. And they didn’t stop with just classroom education offered to Veterans free of charge. Paid internships were made available to eligible students from bedrock companies like Dell, Whole Foods Market, HomeAway, Nokia, Alchemy Systems, GM, Q2e-banking, and of course, Bridge360. This combination of classroom learning from area experts with internships to put these new skills into practice rapidly grew from an idea to a concept to an event to an all-volunteer program. And with that success, launched as a stand-alone non-profit in 2015.
Today, we proudly continue this mission in Austin with our next class starting on May 2nd. Our goal of creating a distance learning program open to US Veterans everywhere is now within reach. And we celebrate our 91% graduation rate and 88% employment rate. From a job fair held in Austin, to a nonprofit headquartered in Austin, we salute the folks at Bridge360 for their vision and their unwavering commitment to Veterans.