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Apprenti Graduation 2020

Last week, Apprenti hosted our first ever national virtual graduation, with over 230 graduating apprentices representing 27 companies, 10 different occupations, and 10 states, including Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, California, Arizona, and Texas.

In recognition of our apprentices’ achievements, Massachusetts’ State Secretary of Labor Rosalyn Acosta gave a short address, noting the trailblazing nature of the graduates’ accomplishments and saying “apprenticeship is for everyone. In Massachusetts we’re working hard to make this a reality for many by helping to grow apprenticeships […] and we are seeing in all our sectors the impact that apprenticeships can have in creating more opportunity for more people from all backgrounds, circumstances, and life experience.”

Apprenti’s Executive Director Jennifer Carlson showed her appreciation for the variety of companies whose apprentices were graduating, and the multitude of sectors they represented, and said: “it transcends sectors because all companies are hiring tech and are tech companies. And what this demonstrates is that this is a system for creating talent and not just consuming talent; it can work for all industries and sectors, and that these companies recognize a need for a culture change and are creating a safe place for people to come in who are coming from a different training platform from the one we’ve normally consumed.”

Washington State Apprenti Committee Chair Lief Zimmerman delved into the history of our program and talked about his journey from skeptic to hiring partner to committee member, and about the value that apprentices had brought to his company: “It wasn’t too long before I met and hired an apprentice who not only brought value to our company, but she brought rigor to me as a manager and to my team of experts; a sort of rigor that was languishing just a bit, in part because of our ‘expertise’ and comfort; a rigor and a tenacity that she had honed in real life.”

The most important and interesting parts of our ceremony, however, were speeches from two of this year’s graduates, Mattea Jones and Ubong Akpan. While they are both Software Analysts, Mattea lives in Massachusetts and works for Wayfair and Ubong lives in Ohio and works for J.P. Morgan Chase, and the paths that led them to apprenticeship were very different. They each took a chance in becoming part of the first cohorts from their respective states in early 2019, and we are very happy to see them complete their apprenticeships and be retained by their hiring partners this year.

Mattea worked in restaurants, at summer camps, and as a seamstress before finding out about Apprenti and was intrigued by the guaranteed on-the-job training and real-world experience. Of that experience, she said, “Once I started, having mentors available to me meant that I continued to be supported, I got some great mentors, and that I had the answers and guidance and support I needed. But more importantly, it meant that I got in the habit of asking questions because I had someone to ask questions to, which is so important for anyone else who’s struggling with imposter syndrome, especially if you’re a woman, or I imagine if you’re a person of color going in.”

Ubong is a U.S. Army veteran who worked as a biomedical equipment technician while in the Army. After leaving the Army, he worked as a Network Engineer, but realized he preferred working with software to working with hardware.  After some difficulty breaking into this field at first, he found a way forward: “By the grace of Apprenti, I am doing that now.  Apprenti was able to—in programming parlance—’break the loop.’ That loop of mediocrity that people find themselves frustrated about getting something they’re passionate about because they do not meet certain requirements. Apprenti created that moment where the man meets the moment and is now in charge of his destiny.” He followed this up by saying, “I am now living a dream that at some point in my life I considered a dying dream. Apprenti has now injected life into it.”

Apprenti continues to grow. We have registered over 1000 apprentices over the life of our program, and we continue adding new markets as we prepare for 2021. With the number of graduates who have passed through our program at this point, we also are growing a robust alumni network to offer support to upcoming apprentices.

For more information on how you can grow your workforce through apprenticeship, check out our hiring page. For more information on becoming part of one of our next cohorts of apprentices, click here.

To hear more from our graduates and speakers, please watch the recorded version of our webinar below.



  • Ellen O’Brien

    Ellen O’Brien is Apprenti’s Program Admin. Prior to working at Apprenti, she gained experience at other non-profits as well as providing administrative support in a variety of other industries. She is glad to be part of a team working to help people advance their careers. Ellen has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington Bothell. When not at work she enjoys volunteering, traveling, experimenting with new recipes, and spending time with her three cats and her husband.

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