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Headshot of apprentice, Ismael Murillo

Resilience and Relationships – A Cloud Operations Apprentice Success Story

Registered apprenticeship can be a great tool for reskilling or upskilling employees. Ismael Murillo learned that first hand when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 while working as a Shift Manager for the Amazon Logistics team. Ismael loved serving Amazon customers and worked hard to ensure that every single package was successfully delivered. However, the cancer diagnosis came with a multitude of changes and it quickly became evident that he would not be able to keep up with the demands of his job. In a season filled with unknowns, Ismael connected with Nick Curry, Amazon’s Director of Apprenticeship Programs, and learned about opportunities to explore other roles through the pathway of apprenticeship. While Ismael lacked the confidence to pursue a career in tech when he was younger, he seized the opportunity to join a large cohort of Cloud Operations Specialists and Solutions Architects apprentices in November 2021.

From the beginning, Ismael enjoyed the rigor and community of his apprenticeship program. Despite needing to take time off part way through the program to receive chemotherapy treatment, the apprenticeship model enabled him to easily take a temporary pause and return to on-the-job training when recovered. The pause afforded Ismael time for doctors appointments and rest. Even though Ismael’s health was significantly better when he returned to work several months later, he continued to experience heavy fatigue and “chemo brain,” making it difficult to retain information. Ultimately, Ismael requested and received accommodation to work from home and have flexible working hours. This made it feasible for Ismael to keep pace with the intense workload and high volume of medical appointments.

Ismael attributes his success to the support he received from managers and the personal relationships he formed during his apprenticeship. For example, during technical training he created a study group with other apprentices, and if he missed a lesson due to a doctor’s appointment, Ismael would reach out to the group for notes and guidance. The support from those in his study group continued when the cohort transitioned into on-the-job training. Despite being placed on different teams, the group remained connected, offering technical and emotional support to each other via Slack. Ismael also established a strong relationship with his mentor and onboarding buddy – helping him translate classroom learning into application. 

Ismael recognizes that he received strong support from colleagues because he was open about his cancer journey. Ismael stands by his decision to share his cancer diagnosis with others because he believes that his experience may help others who have received a difficult medical diagnosis or disability feel more comfortable disclosing to a manager. Disclosing his diagnosis opened doors to an apprenticeship opportunity that he hadn’t previously known was available.

The throughline of Ismael’s experience at Amazon has been the leadership principle: customer obsessed. From his start in a warehouse role to ultimately his position as Solutions Architect, the customers are the reason that he gets up in the morning to do his work. He is grateful that the apprenticeship opportunity gave him a new way to create innovative solutions to meet customer needs.


Advice to employers: Picking good mentors can be instrumental in the success of an apprenticeship. Look for people who have strong soft skills and are able to give and receive feedback.

Advice to other apprentices: You need to figure out your “why” for your apprenticeship. Inevitably, at some point in your apprenticeship their will be challenges and your why can help you get through. Each person is unique, so you need to find what motivates you. 


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