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ASSESSING – Foster Equity & Transparency With An Application Guide

Application processes are most equitable when they are transparent. Often, Black, Latinx/e, Indigenous candidates who are skilled via alternative routes instead of a bachelor’s degree spend significant time and energy applying to apprenticeship programs they’re uncertain they’re qualified for that feel like a big, black box.

Equitable access to information via an application guide allows potential applicants and community sourcing partners to understand:

  • If the program is a good fit / if they’re ready for it
  • What the application process entails
  • How they can effectively prepare to apply

Further, it makes explicit any “tricks of the trade” when it comes to applying for a program that individuals from alternative education backgrounds may not be aware of, and limits any unwritten rules.

Lastly, it helps the program more equitably and efficiently attract applications from underrepresented talent at the right readiness level.

Below, we’ve worked with equity champion Jacqui Watts to distill insights from various equitable application guides she’s piloted or seen from apprenticeship providers to help create transparency and demystify the application process.

The key elements of an application guide can include:

  1. An overview of the program
  2. Technical skill expectations
  3. Non-technical skill expectations
  4. Overview of the application process
  5. Tips for successfully prepping an application
  6. Tips for successfully prepping for interviews
  7. What to expect during and upon completion of the program

Template for content you might include in each section:

1) Program Overview:

  • Length and purpose of program
  • About the company
  • What type of technical challenges the company is tackling
  • Who the program targets
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Pay rate, benefits, and employment status (full-time-employee or contractor)
  • Location

2) Technical Expectations:

  • List out the top 3–5 specific technical skills needed to be successful in the program
  • Make sure the technical skills listed are appropriate to the work an apprentice will be expected to contribute
  • Suggest free online resources to help get someone started if they are new to any of the needed skill areas
  • Suggest free online resources for individuals who fulfill technical expectations and want to dive deeper

3) Non-Technical Expectations:

  • List out the top 3–5 specific “non-technical” attributes sought after in strong candidates
  • Include a clear definition of each attribute
  • Suggest free online resources to help individuals better understand these attributes

4) Overview of the Application Process:

  • Length of time applications are open (start and end date with exact closure time and specified time zone) — if application period is variable, provide at least an “earliest expected end date”
  • Application elements (e.g. resume, short essays, code sample)
  • If application period is relatively short, consider providing essay prompts in advance
  • Visualize a timeline: application period, interviews, offers extended, program start date

5) Tips for successfully prepping an application

  • Highlight clear expectations for each application component (e.g. resume, short essays, code sample)
  • Provide an example of a successful application component
  • Remind talent to list affiliation with any sourcing partner in their application, and provide space to do so

6) Tips for successfully prepping for interviews

  • Overview of the interview process (i.e. technical + functional interview)
  • Provide general tips for the technical interview that a coding bootcamp might provide
  • Provide links to free coding challenges and technical interview prep platforms, and when needed specify the appropriate level of difficulty to focus on for each resource (i.e. “problems marked as easy”)
  • Provide general tips for the non-technical interview that a college career resource center might provide
  • Provide links on how one can familiarize themselves with the company’s mission, current initiatives, and top priorities (e.g. newsroom, technical team blogs)

7) What to expect

  • Provide a basic visual timeline breakdown of the various phases of the program and their objective
  • Share what type of support they’ll receive during the program
  • Detail any relevant milestones they’ll be expected to achieve along the way
  • Clearly state the program’s intentions when it comes to conversion (i.e. Is there a target conversion rate or are all apprentices expected to convert contingent upon performance during the program?)
  • Demystify what happens at each stage of the apprenticeship
  • Provide a brief summary of what happens to converted apprentices
  • What level/title they convert into
  • What the expected salary is for this level
  • What continued support around learning and advancement they can expect to receive
  • Highlight that successful conversion is contingent upon performance in the program
  • Provide a brief summary of what happens to non-converted apprentices
  • What support or guidance they can or cannot expect from the program to prepare them for their job search

Working with carefully vetted community partners to host information workshops that walk through key elements of the application guide is very useful, especially when candidates can hear candidly from leaders of the program as well as current or former apprentices from shared racial and educational backgrounds.

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Tool and best practices co-designed with champion in tech Jacqui Watts.

Have questions or comments about the Equitable Tech Apprenticeship Toolkit? Send us a note.