My Apprenticeship Experience

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By Kwizi Ndogole, CWDC Project Coordinator Apprentice

My name is Kwizi Ndogole and I am a second year student at Community College of Denver majoring in business marketing, and I also work as an apprentice with the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) as a project coordinator on the career pathways team. 

I started my apprenticeship journey in June of 2021 during my second semester as a junior in high school. Throughout high school I explored different internship opportunities, and was involved as a peer mentor at Denver South High School. 

High school was fun. But the COVID-19 pandemic made it challenging to be isolated from high school classmates and in-person activities. At the beginning of 2021, I spent time looking for jobs at restaurants, retail stores, and coffee shops. I went to job interviews, but I received rejections or was left with no updates from the employer, which made me feel worthless. 

All I knew was that I wanted to work and feel a sense of achievement. 

In June of 2021, I found an apprenticeship position at the CWDC through CareerWise Colorado. I got an offer as a project coordinator in the career pathways project team. I didn’t know what I got myself into, but found myself excited to be starting a job -- especially a hands-on learning experience while getting paid to work in an office and with the state. 

It sounded fancy and professional to me. But with my excitement was also fear, self-doubt and low self-esteem. After all, this was a good opportunity, but I didn’t have any experience working in a professional environment setting. 

As soon as I started, everyone was nice to me. Especially my supervisor and mentor, CWDC Career Pathways Senior Consultant Thomas Hartman. He made sure that I felt comfortable and welcome. The environment he provided made me feel like I was part of the team, and valuable with life experience and skills (after all, those are my assets). 

Kwizi hosting booth exhibit with CWDC TeamAs an apprentice, I have been exposed to many different careers and different sectors of industries. I’ve learned how to work with others, collaborate, and given a “behind the scenes” look into the department and the state. I have had opportunities to learn about the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Colorado Community College System, and other state department agencies that I didn’t know about. It has been an eye-opening experience for me to see the passion that people have in making a difference, not only in education, but the student experience in Colorado in helping us get ready for our future careers and journeys. 

My apprenticeship was a good opportunity for me to explore more about myself in my last year of high school, and have an idea of what I would like to do with my career after graduation. Having the opportunity to understand and know how to balance school and work has been one of the important skills I have learned. 

Throughout the apprenticeship experience, I have had opportunities to collaborate with different people in my department and with external partners. I have been able to be involved in our annual release of two career pathways in My Colorado Journey. Assisting with project meetings, project tasks, events, and conferences has allowed me to broaden and feel confident in my role, as well as boost my self confidence.

Kwizi and CWDC Apprentice hosting booth at a local event.I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone looking to gain experience and try something new as a stepping stone to their career journey. Apprenticeship is filled with many professional development opportunities that you can leverage to build your skills and confidence. It is a place where you can be comfortable, where you can feel valued and see the results of your work and effort come to life. 

June 2024 will be my final year as an apprentice, and third year as a young professional in the workforce. I always say, if I end up taking another opportunity or start a new journey, CWDC will always be my home. They helped shape me into who I am today, and we share precious memories, life lessons, and career experiences. It was there I learned to always take space and make space, not only for myself but for others as well. 

Try an apprenticeship and see what it has to offer. Even with ups and downs, a professional apprenticeship experience will always be worth it. Thank you for reading my journey!