Audio Producer Switches Career Paths With IT Readiness Certificates

Samir Jha started a new career with skills learned in IT Readiness classes
Photo by University Relations

Samir Jha started a new career with skills learned in IT Readiness classes

ROGERS, Ark. – Samir Jha turned a part-time passion into a full-time career by earning IT certificates in back-end and mobile development at the University of Arkansas campus in Rogers.

Jha, who has a bachelor’s degree in audio production, started working Jan. 16 as a senior associate developer with a cybersecurity consulting firm in Connecticut. Jha studied in the IT Readiness Program and developed his professional network while working full-time as an audio producer and editor at the University of Arkansas.

Applications are open through March 1 for IT certificate classes that begin March 11 and 12.

“It’s tough,” Jha said of his first classes. “You have to squeeze everything in in six months.”

He did. Jha, originally from Nepal, earned a certificate in back-end development in May 2017, and then completed the mobile development classes. He finished the program by presenting a project, a mobile music application, at Demo Day, when IT Readiness students showcase their final projects.

“It was a hefty project that took almost a year of working on it almost every day,” Jha said.

Jha took knowledge he gained from his teachers, including Aaron Robinson with Walmart Technology, and expanded it through self-directed learning.

“Aaron would teach me one thing, and I would learn five more on my own,” Jha said. “I was persistent in what I was doing.”

Jha connected with his current employer, Drawbridge Partners, through his back-end development instructor, Blake Johnston, a software developer at RevUnit. Jha started part-time development for Drawbridge Partners in December.

“After a month of contract work, the senior developer offered me a full-time job,” Jha said. “I’ve gained their trust. They know I can work.”

Although his new employer is in Connecticut, Jha will remain in Fayetteville, working remotely. Drawbridge Partners is a cybersecurity consulting firm specializing in the needs of hedge fund and private equity managers. Drawbridge assists managers with building and maintaining a rigorous cybersecurity program to protect their sensitive data.

IT Readiness Program

The IT Readiness Program provides information technology skills identified by area business partners who help develop the curriculum and teach classes.

Those who want to earn certificates in back-end development, front-end development and Java can register online for classes that begin March 11 and 12. Mobile development classes are set for summer.

The in-state cost – $999 per Arkansas participant – is subsidized through a $923,842 Regional Workforce Continuation Grant from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Out-of-state participants pay $1,499. Participants are eligible for Arkansas Education Loans.

IT Readiness partners include Acxiom, Bentonville Public Schools, CaseStack, Collective Bias, DataScout LLC, Field Agent, Harvest Group, Iberia Bank, J.B. Hunt, Lofty Labs, Metova Inc., NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Northwest Arkansas Council, Northwest Technical Institute, RevUnit, Rogers Public Schools, Saatchi & Saatchi X, Springdale Public Schools, Startup Junkie Consulting, Tata Consultancy Services, VMLY & R, Walmart Stores Inc. and WhyteSpyder.

This program is one of many showcased on the U of A Professional and Workforce Development website. Courses and programs provide people in the region with the workforce skills and certificates needed to enter the workforce or to change careers.

About the Global Campus: The Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Mark Berkowick, Assistant Director of Workforce Readiness
Global Campus

Kay Murphy, director of communications
Global Campus


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