This month we are featuring our very first apprentice with ComTech – Lauren McGuire. Lauren is a multi-talented apprentice who is making a return to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent for several years.
How did you first decide to pursue an apprenticeship through Apprenti?
I heard about Apprenti at an event for women who wanted to return to the workforce after being stay-at-home moms. When I first heard about Apprenti, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in tech. I put the Apprenti card on my desk and didn’t think about it. One day, my middle school aged son found the card, went to the website and said he wanted to take the math test. I studied math in college, so I figured I’d take the test and see how I’d do.
Once I entered the pool of apprentices, I was lucky to interview for a job that synched with my interest in data. What appealed to me about this program was I got a job first and then received free training specific for the position. In my previous work life, most of the software I used was proprietary and not transferable to other organizations. The some of my other software skills were out of date. Before I found Apprenti, I had been trying to teach myself SQL using online resources, which was both interesting and frustrating. The tools were not always reliable, and I didn’t know if what I was learning would be applicable on a job. The classroom training provided by Apprenti was far more robust than anything I could have found on my own. It gave me the skills and confidence I needed to get back on the job.
What were you doing before Apprenti?
I had been a stay-at-home mom for seventeen years. During this time, I had been a volunteer and was involved in education advocacy. After I ran for School Board in 2015, I was looking for a new direction. In college, I studied Mathematical Methods in the Social Science and I have a Master’s degree in communications. After college, I gravitated to quantitative jobs and did a lot of number crunching. Prior to becoming a mom, I had worked in strategic marketing consulting, human resources consulting and organizational change management. While I loved my job, I was traveling three days a week. This schedule was not compatible with motherhood for me so I left the workforce.
When I left my job to have kids, I had no idea how challenging it would be to return to a position that matched my skills and interests. I found many employers don’t know what to do with women returning to the work, especially someone like me with a general business background. I imagine them thinking, “Why should I hire a woman who hasn’t been gainfully employed for x years when I can find someone who is doing the same work today at another company?” Apprenti created a bridge for me to return to the paid workforce.
What are you training for right now? How is it going so far?
I am three months into a IT Business Analyst apprenticeship at ComTech and I am delighted to be here. The work is interesting and I work with a great group of people. I have been assigned to a team that is restructuring one of our foundational databases. The classroom training did a great job of helping me rebuild my skills so I could feel confident and productive as I transitioned back to full-time employment. The first few weeks on the job were like drinking from a firehose, but my manager and team were patient and supportive as I was learning the basics about the data I’d be using.
What effect has Apprenti brought to your career if any? What’s your plan for your career post Apprenti?
I don’t think I would have been able to return to the workforce as a professional without the Apprenti program. I am delighted to have found a job that matches my skills and interests. Ideally, I’d like to keep working at Comtech. In other skilled trades apprenticeships, the goal is to become an independent contractor at the end. My goal when I joined Apprenti was to get my foot in the door, prove to be a valuable employee, and stay on.
Would you recommend Apprenti? Who would you recommend it to?
Yes. I would recommend Apprenti to professional women who are looking to return to the workforce after being stay-at-home moms. This was a great way for me to update my skills and learn new ones. I also appreciate Apprenti’s mission of bringing women, people of color and veterans into tech jobs. Apprenti is a well-run organization and has strong support from major technology companies, the State of Washington and the U.S. Department of Labor. I felt safe and comfortable putting my career in the hands of Apprenti.