Why I left college to pursue an apprenticeship

A light blue and dark blue graphic with a photo of a person

Andrew recently began a Data apprenticeship with a leading insurance company in New York, through Multiverse.

We caught up with him to hear more about his journey – and how he’s feeling about embarking on his new career in Data Science.

Andrew on NJPBS sharing his experience.

Leaving college to do an apprenticeship

I initially followed the traditional path and went to college right out of high school. I ended up leaving the first institution because they didn’t have the major I wanted. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in technology – particularly cybersecurity – and I wanted to study it as much as possible in college.

The second institute was better, but the instruction model wasn’t for me. My professors lectured, gave us passages to read, then tested us. I wanted more hands on learning, especially since I was straining to pay for the experience and my parents had started pitching in as well. These frustrations made me rethink my path.

Exploring other modes of learning

Wary of putting myself in debt, I assessed my options and enrolled in Per Scholas(opens new window). After attending the Cyber Security bootcamp, I passed the CISCO CyberOps exam. As a Cisco Certified CyberOps Professional, my career opportunities really opened up. Suddenly, I could consider roles like Information Security Analyst. These courses didn’t cost me anything either, which was a huge stress reliever.

At Per Scholas I was introduced to Streetwise Partners(opens new window) and joined because of their mentorship offer. My two mentors helped me be specific about what I wanted to do in the cyber security field – and how best to make it happen.

I chose a career in data and network analysis and my mentors were great, sending me resources for Python courses and general career development. That’s when I heard about Multiverse. Realizing I’d be paid to learn, I went for it.

Launching a career through an apprenticeship

Through Per Scholas, Streetwise Partners and now Multiverse, I’ve learned that people really will go out of their way to help others. Connecting with people and learning from them opens so many doors.

The apprenticeship route allowed me to learn something I’ve always been fascinated by – at no cost. I’ve picked up so many technical skills and get real satisfaction out of solving issues. Even better, my manager is so helpful and always takes time out to explain things or point me in the right direction.

I’ve been introduced to my Multiverse coach and we’ll meet in a few weeks to go over my work plan. I’ve connected with other apprentices too. We have our own Slack channel and I’ve joined events through the Multiverse Community Hub. There’s a speed networking event I’m particularly looking forward to! Like I said, I know just how important connecting with people is.

Treading an alternative path

I’ve always loved data. In high school, I was part of a FIRST Robotics team called the G-House Pirates. I was a scout leader, which meant I stood in the bleachers recording how the other teams performed with their robot. By analyzing this data, we knew which robots to pick and became finalists two years in a row! I also won a cyber security competition, which told me I needed to find a way to study data further.

Free programs like Per Scholas, Streetwise Partners and Multiverse have given me this opportunity. It’s just great to be doing something you’re passionate about – especially when you’re surrounded by good people.

I think I’ll quote the legendary Yoda to sum things up: “do or do not, there is no try”. There are so many pathways out there it can be overwhelming – but you can’t be afraid. Either you do something, or you don’t. Even by trying it out, you’re doing it. So just go for it!

Afua Laast

Read more posts by this author