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National Apprenticeship Featured Hero

National Apprenticeship Week: A Community that Lifts Each Other Up

Apprentice Highlight: Nathen Guerrero

National Apprenticeship Week is coming to a close, but we’re still keeping the celebration going! This week has been all about celebrating all of the humans who successfully navigated an apprenticeship opportunity and are helping to rebuild the nation’s economy, advance racial and gender equity, and support underestimated communities. Bitwise Industries is one of many U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Programs, meaning that individuals in our program are provided opportunities in the technology industry with job training that includes a minimum of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of instruction. 

And because we believe in paying people for their work, Bitwise also provides apprentices with a full-time salary that includes medical benefits. Bottom line? Bitwise Industries’ Apprentices earn a living wage, work on real-world projects, and bridge the gap between learning and working.
Our Registered Apprenticeships are helping to address the nation’s workforce challenges, alongside many of our valued partners. One of those partners is the Center for Employment Opportunities, an organization that offers individuals just coming home from prison the ongoing support necessary to build career capital and financial stability. Similar to Bitwise, they believe that everyone, regardless of their past, deserves the chance to work toward a stronger future for themselves, their families, and their communities. Today, we highlight the journey of another apprentice, and also a Veteran, who signed up for a specialized course and found a new community that helped catapult him to a new career in tech. Read on to learn more about his inspirational journey!

Today we celebrate:

  • Human: Nathen Guerrero
  • Role: IT/Tech Support Specialist
  • Focus: Tech Support
  • Apprenticeship: 2021

Nathen’s life before his first Bitwise Class

Nathen Guerrero was a blue collar worker before joining the Bitwise Community, working in general labor and customer service for a local communication construction company. He describes the working environment as stressful, living paycheck to paycheck, and generally unhappy. Nathen served for six years in the Army National Guard, so stress wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling—but it was still an unwelcome burden as he worked to support his family and himself. Like many other  Veterans, Nathen struggled with finding fulfilling employment after his service, ultimately choosing what was most accessible to just make ends meet. But a friend mentioned a specialized course Bitwise Industries was offering—just for Veterans like Nathen. He jumped at the opportunity to learn something new and possibly find a new career.

One day I just decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for a Bitwise Class, specifically for Veterans. I had always wanted to do something with my head and not just my hands.

The Bitwise Class in Nathen’s Eyes

One of the first things Nathen noticed in his specialized Veteran’s course was that even his instructor had prior service experience. The common ground helped ease Nathen’s nerves, and also provided necessary context and approach to teaching Veterans that only someone with prior service experience would know. But Nathen struggled with self-doubt throughout his first few classes, comparing himself to his colleagues and their projects. Add on top that he was still working his full-time job, a delicate balancing act that often left him scrambling. However, the work and environment at Bitwise was more fulfilling than his previous jobs, and even though things were still stressful, it was actually fun! Eventually, Nathen was offered an apprenticeship focusing on Tech Support, which he jumped at the opportunity to do.

There were a lot of former military members in our class, including our instructor, and we had a lot of common ground. They just understood the way we think and how we act—and knew how hard the transition home could be.

Nathen’s great takeaway from the apprenticeship?

Nathen worked on a variety of projects in his apprenticeship, gaining experience and technical skills he could put to use in a new career. In the Tech Support Apprenticeship, a lot of work Nathen did was focused on troubleshooting and making sure end-users were satisfied with workflow. The apprentices even developed a tech support program for existing Bitwise Classes, helping out current students as well. It wasn’t easy, and Nathen explains that he’s most proud of his determination to not give up and push through the self-doubt he experienced during his apprenticeship. A lot of that had to do with the people around him, who supported Nathen in opening up when things got difficult. Instructors helped Nathen believe in himself, proved both through his self-development and the actual projects he was building alongside his fellow apprentices.

If you help out one person, more often than not they’re going to help out the next person, which helps out the whole company.

What changed after the apprenticeship journey for Nathen?

Throughout the apprenticeship journey, Nathen really focused on the “trickle down” effect he experienced with his fellow apprentices and Bitwise community. This relates to his personal story, military experience, and individual struggles. He now recognizes that sharing his experience with others is another way to help transform lives the same way folks helped transform him. Now a full-time employee, Nathen thinks back to his initial choice to sign-up for a Bitwise Class, astounded that he almost didn’t sign-up because of self-doubt. To see how far he’s come since then shows just how much progress Nathen has made in his personal development. He had always thought of coding as something he could do—and now he has the skills, experience, and physical projects to prove that he can.

I want to speak up and help somebody not give up. I want to encourage them to actually take a chance on themselves and sign up for a Bitwise Class. Bitwise helped me out in so many more ways than just work, and I want to share that with others like me.

What does Nathen’s future look like?

Looking towards the future used to be something Nathen feared—uncertainty about careers and income always loomed in the forefront of his mind. He used to fear thinking about where he would be in five or ten years, because he simply didn’t know. But now, a full-time employee at Bitwise Industries, Nathen isn’t scared anymore. He knows his value and worth, technical skills, and experience. He has seen the power of community alongside his instructors, apprentices, and colleagues. His work is fulfilling, and although might still be stressful at times—he has the confidence to know he can accomplish any goal in front of him. Most of that came from his experience in the classroom at Bitwise, and knee-deep in actual client projects during his apprenticeship.

I’m not afraid of where I’m going to be in the future now. My experience here at Bitwise has made me a better person, and I have a better outlook looking forward.

Looking Forward

As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, we want to give a huge shout-out to our inspiring community of apprentices at Bitwise! Each one of them has a journey full of milestones and transformations that speak to Bitwise’s mission of creating opportunities in tech for underestimated individuals. Be sure to look back at some of the other apprentice highlights on the blog, and check out our social media to hear great stories from our apprentices and Bitwise community—including info about the student journey through the first class, apprenticeships, and becoming a full-time tech employee.