Practice Makes Perfect: My P-TECH & Apprenticeship Journey

By | 2 minute read | November 9, 2020

I remember hearing about P-TECH at Carver Vocational-Technical High in Baltimore in 2016 after seeing a presentation during ninth grade orientation. When my Mom heard about the idea of me receiving free college courses at 14 years old, she was excited and for good reason.

Personally, I was kind of iffy about it because I realized then and there being both a high school student and college student would not be easy. And I was right. Yet despite overcoming many difficulties the past four years, it led me to where I am today.

Following a paid internship at IBM during the summer of 2019, I am now working as an IBM Apprentice and learning how to be a Technical Solutions Seller for IBM Z Mainframes. I’m regularly studying about mainframe hardware and the various inputs and outputs of the systems, like making sure data is encrypted and protected. I’m always improving my technical understanding of CSS, ICL, and Linux programming languages. When coupled with skills like critical thinking and time management, I feel equipped to succeed.

My innate curiosity and ambition also have been key to my professional growth since I’m often pursuing more education outside work or school. Like, for example, after taking my accounting course, I began teaching myself about making money in stock market and learning all about financial investments.

A lot of this knowledge comes from being part of IBM’s “New Collar” job programs —those jobs that do not necessarily a four-year degree—and has laid a good foundation to start my career. I’ve had many mentors and am always watching them achieve great things which gives me confidence to follow in their footsteps. And despite not paying money for my education, I’ve spent lots of time working hard to gain the skills and experience needed to effectively perform my role.

In this way, I’m also proud to be part of programs like P-TECH and the Apprenticeship Program because they contribute to the growth of a diverse, talented workforce by including “out of the box” thinkers like me. These programs reach areas where someone with my typical background wouldn’t have had the opportunity to achieve their goals.

And with P-TECH in 241 open schools across the world, this new education model can touch people with different backgrounds and experiences, which will make businesses more diverse and inclusive everywhere.

Anyone interested in this should understand that they don’t have to know it all to succeed, but you also cannot expect to be handed a degree or skills—if you make the commitment to learn and strive to be great at what you do, it will pay off.