Hands-on workplace experience turned Cadence Snider’s uncertainty about her future into a clear path toward a good-paying career.
Meet Cadence Snider, a financial officer with Heritage Financial Group in Elkhart, Ind., and a member of the high school marching band. Typically, these aren’t activities that go together – a professional career and high school extracurricular activities. But they do through Modern Apprenticeship, a two-to three-year program starting in 11th grade designed to prepare high school students for the workplace with paid, hands-on experience that complements their traditional coursework.
Last year, Cadence and a few of her classmates were invited to attend a presentation about youth apprenticeships held by their school’s guidance counselor. Through youth apprenticeships, high school students split their time between the classroom and in-demand jobs. They earn a wage while applying their classroom learning in a workplace setting, gaining practical experience along the way.
As a member of the marching band and color guard, Cadence wasn’t sure if she would have enough time for a job during the school year. As she learned more about CareerWise Elkhart County, which is Horizon Education Alliance’s apprenticeship program serving Elkhart County, though, she knew she wanted to participate.
Cadence is now a first-year apprentice and continues her extracurricular involvement at school. Initially drawn to the opportunity to earn money while in high school, Cadence quickly grew to value the chance to gain relevant skills and workforce credentials. While Cadence didn’t know exactly what she wanted for her future career, through her apprenticeship, she was able to identify and explore her interests.
“I didn’t really have any goals for my future,” she said, “But I knew I wanted to be in something financial – either a bank or a credit office.”
At Heritage Financial, Cadence takes on meaningful responsibilities and is treated as a teammate. When she arrives at work, she distributes the mail and gets settled at her desk. Once she has checked on the financial spreadsheets, she reviews, sorts and mails out loan application letters.
Having shadowed her coworkers through loan application reviews and the procedure for conducting reference calls, she steadily progressed to making the reference calls herself. She has even taken on the additional responsibility of discussing loan management with customers. This aspect of the job has made her care more about credit and financial management.
Starting in 2021, high school juniors in Indianapolis will be able to participate in apprenticeship opportunities like Cadence: Modern Apprenticeship (MAP) is a pilot initiative in Central Indiana that will prepare high school students for the workforce in high-wage, high-demand fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing and information technology (IT).
The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation is pleased to be funding this pilot program, which is designed to address Central Indiana’s leaky talent pipeline and better prepare students for success beyond high school. By 2025, 60% of jobs in Indiana will require a high-quality post-secondary degree or credential. Currently, only 48.5% of Hoosiers have earned an associate degree or higher or a short-term credential. While that marks an encouraging increase of 15.1 percentage points since 2008, there remains much work to be done to ensure we are preparing Indiana’s current and future workforce for the types of jobs that will be available in the coming years.
For high school students who are interested in exploring this path, Cadence shares a piece of advice:
“Think about the person you are,” she said. “If you are ready for that responsibility and you want to continue to pursue [an apprenticeship], then look at the different businesses and careers that are available. Ask as many questions as possible.”
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