Tech employers continue to face a pervasive digital skills talent shortage. In 2021 alone, 197,000…
We have two Program Coordinators on our staff, Auriana Robin and Ryan Foster. They both are an integral part of the work that Apprenti does in Washington and around the country. Earlier, I sat down to talk with them about their jobs, and what it’s like to do this work on a day to day basis.
Let’s start out with how long have each of you been in your jobs at Apprenti.
AR: About a year and a half.
RF: I’ve been here little over a year.
Describe a little bit about the work that you do.
AR: As Program Coordinators, we are heavily involved in the candidate screening process. Once candidates are placed into the program as apprentices, we do a lot of apprenticeship management from day one until they graduate. We also work very closely with employer partners regarding current and future apprentices and cohorts.
RF: We’re also involved in preliminary recruitment. We go to events on a periodic basis reaching out to target communities like veterans, people of color, and other underrepresented groups like women to get our name out in the apprenticeship sphere.
What did each of you do before working for Apprenti?
AR: Before working for Apprenti, I had been an accounting assistant for four years, and I have my bachelor’s degree in Global Development.
RF: I worked for a law firm as an administrative assistant, and I also interned at the World Affairs Council for a year after I graduated with my Business Management degree from Western Washington University.
What made you interested in working here?
RF: There’s a lot of nonprofits out there, but this mission is fascinating. We’re taking what would normally be a hiring and recruiting process and injecting a lot of mission into it in terms of focusing on target populations and bettering the community.
AR: I knew that when I went into the nonprofit sector, I wanted to be on the program delivery side of things. I really appreciated participating in the reframing of talent development. I didn’t think I was going to end up in the tech sector, so this is a really cool piece of that puzzle to contribute to.
What have been the most interesting things about your time here and the most interesting things that you’ve experienced?
AR: Not coming from a military background myself, and not having any close family members serve in the military, working with and managing a large veteran population has been a new opportunity. I’ve been able to learn a lot about a community I didn’t have any prior day-to-day interaction with. So understanding their needs, in terms of tech apprenticeship and talent development, is very interesting. I’m still learning that.
RF: I’ve liked being able to learn about apprenticeships and how they are of value to the tech market.
Could you both say a little bit about what have been the biggest challenges?
RF: Apprenticeship for IT is a new concept still, and although Apprenti has done it successfully for a couple years, the main speed bump is getting employers to adopt it and help them realize they’ll find really great employees.
AR: One of the challenges that has also been interesting is having registered apprenticeship, which is a very structured, within a sector like tech that is changing and evolving and not known for being super-structured. There’s a lot of really cool opportunities to create new processes and set new norms.
What are you most looking forward to in your roles as time goes on?
RF: More employer partners in more and different sectors. Our model is flexible enough to work across different sectors and make a great pathway for whoever we work with. I’m excited to see a lot of that growth with companies outside of just the big tech companies.
AR: I would say I’m really excited to see our graduate population growing. It will be really cool to track long-term where our former apprentices end up, and to view their successes and hear about their promotions, and how they will eventually be interacting with current apprentices as mentors. We’re working on building the alumni program for this reason.
So do you have any stories you’d like to share about your cohorts and the apprentices in them?
AR: For me, the gala was one of my most fun interactions with apprentices from different cohorts. It was really cool to hear the apprentices’ stories in-person and through the video. Not all of my apprentices were able to attend, but we got some good representation.
RF: I think another memory that sticks out for me is when my first cohort of Software Developers at Codefellows graduated from technical training and moved to on-the-job training. We did a celebration and graduation ceremony at Amazon for a huge cohort of 35 apprentices. I got to have deeper conversations with the apprentices. Seeing them excited and happy about their accomplishments was a lot of fun.
Is there anything else that either of you would like to share?
AR: I think Ryan and I are both very grateful to do the work that we do and to interact with our apprentices who outside of this job we might not even know or have interacted with on a day-to-day basis. It’s been really cool to be part of that story. We get to learn more about so many other backgrounds and interests, and how they got here.
RF: There’s so many different paths that can lead to an apprenticeship, whether it’s as a career change, or as a first step in a career…and this has been a really great opportunity to get to know people who I would have never met before.