Apprenticeships are unique in that they are designed as a skills-based pathway to full-time roles and last closer to a year or more. Internships, on the other hand, involve talent immediately returning to school or other activities after a program period of typically one to three months.
Internal Conversion: We encourage companies to have adequate headcount and commitment to converting apprentices into internal roles. This creates a return on investment in areas such as (1) cost savings seen from higher retention rates than talent entering via other pathways, (2) time savings hiring talent already familiar with company internal systems and processes, and (3) financial benefits associated with boosting diversity on teams to contribute to more innovation and inclusive products that work for more people.
- Reflection Question: If your company won’t convert and hire an apprentice who completes your program, is your program adequately designed to provide the apprentice the skills and experience they need?
External Conversion: While not every company is able to internally convert all apprentices to full-time employees at the end of the program, an equitably designed program must still nurture apprentices to add value to the tech ecosystem and guide them in their external job search. It is critical to incorporate career-seeking support and tools to help apprentices find employment.
- Reflection Question: If an apprentice isn’t adequately prepared for hire in the external tech ecosystem, is your program adequately designed to provide the apprentice the skills and experience they need?
Below, we share tech champion learnings on how to keep an equitable focus on advancing apprentices beyond the program.
- All apprentices should be celebrated for their accomplishments. This may look like hosting a program graduation ceremony in which work is showcased and apprentices are recognized for their achievements. Invite apprentices, technical program managers, mentors, any employees or external partners who volunteered their time, internal hiring managers, and families and friends of apprentices. Also include recognition of apprentices and their technical and non-technical accomplishments in internal and external communications. Have influential leads share communications with external hiring managers. Inform sourcing partners of conversion outcomes so they can celebrate wins as well and try to match talent with open positions.
- Create a road map for converted apprentices. This can be curated by the technical teams onto which the apprentices convert. Leave flexibility in the plan for the apprentices to convert up the employee career band ladder depending on their baseline skill level and growth rate. Develop a skeleton technical and non-technical 1–2 year curriculum that can be adjusted to be relevant to their team’s work and the apprentice’s planned progression to the next level.
- Designate time and support for continuous technical and non-technical learning and development for converted apprentices. Managers should regularly block calendar time to work with converted apprentices on continued learning. Managers should also be given guidance and tools for how to encourage ongoing team mentorship of the converted apprentice. In addition, the apprenticeship cohort lead should continue to offer coaching and office hours for converted apprentices to benefit from ongoing advice, best-practices, and relevant learning resources.
- Connect converted apprentices to employee resource groups and apprenticeship program alumni to share insight into the “unspoken” ways that tech companies work that often underrepresented apprentices and their networks may not be aware of. This will help them navigate their path within the company more strategically and gives them access to more people and support across a number of levels and functions. Upon program completion, apprentices may want to create or join a peer-support group to continue their sense of community as they embark on the next steps in their careers.
- Offer unconverted apprentices structured support prepping to apply for appropriate positions at other companies. Your company should plan in advance to offer:
- Tailored job search coaching. This may look like recruiters or other people ops representatives sitting down with the apprentice and their former manager to discuss performance strengths and growth areas, how to address these in their job search, what companies and roles to apply for, additional upskilling needed, how to prepare for technical and non-technical interviews, how to strengthen their portfolios and/or LinkedIn profile or resumes, and conducting mock interviews. Encourage unconverted apprentices and HR recruiters to develop a longer-term relationship in order to be notified and considered for future internal job opportunities.
- Advocacy, network connections, and social capital. This may involve the apprentice’s managers, mentors, or teammates leveraging their networks to advocate for the apprentice. These individuals might create a LinkedIn post highlighting that the individual is entering the job market and should be seriously considered for open roles. They might connect the apprentice to informational interviews, network contacts, and other forms of social capital that have historically excluded underrepresented communities. Peer networks are highly segregated by race, which limits informal knowledge-sharing about job opportunities, referrals, and recommendations across racial groups.
Equitable program design requires that both converted and unconverted apprentices walk away from the program with a plan of action and adequate support to thrive in their evolving career path.
— — — — — — — — —
Tool and best practices co-designed with champion in tech Meana Kasi.
Have questions or comments about the Equitable Tech Apprenticeship Toolkit? Send us a note.