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Throughout his high school career and the jobs that followed, Brandon Whittington has always had an interest in technology. Then one day he took a job at a local elementary school. The job was unique in that he was responsible not only for maintaining and repairing the school’s network of computers, but also for teaching the young students the skills to use the technology.
He found the work so rewarding that he started several programs to teach the students more 21st century skills – including a Girls Who Code club. He felt the opportunity was especially important for the students, many of who came from low-income backgrounds, to build skills that would help them be successful through their educational and professional careers.
Inspired by their passion and enthusiasm for the subjects, he began to look for opportunities to further build his skills and explore his own career in the technology sector by taking web development classes at the local community college and eventually exploring other job opportunities.
“I saw that IBM had an apprenticeship program in software engineering. IBM has always stood out to me as a company that is innovating and reinventing itself. We had that in common I think,” Brandon says. “The program gave me the chance to pivot from a hardware background to a software background, applying my skills and strengths in a new direction.”
After applying and being accepted, Brandon started his year-long position in IBM’s registered apprenticeship program in October 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina. In his new role, Brandon has been able to learn more about how a large company like IBM tackles different software development challenges. The program is giving him the chance to practice skills he learned – and taught – in the classroom, all while meeting and learning from other professionals in the industry.
Brandon hopes to be able to apply his skills to develop new software solutions and aspires to file a patent. In the meantime, he believes programs like this can help others find rewarding careers in technology.
“There’s a tremendous shortage of people with the right skills, and IBM is finding innovative ways to fill those roles,” Brandon says. “After working in the education system for many years, I see the way that our current system can fail students in lots of ways. Sometimes after high school, or even college, students aren’t really ready for the workforce. Specific skills programs like apprenticeships can help students learn the right skills, more quickly.”
Click here to learn more about apprenticeships at IBM.