This apprentice interview is part of a series highlight apprentice success stories during National Apprenticeship Week 2020. To read more about how CCSNH & ApprenticeshipNH are celebrating the week, please click here.
Apprentice Name: Chris Umbreit
Town: Exeter, NH
Place of Employment: Cobham
Community college name: Great Bay Community College
What were you doing before you became an apprentice? Did you have any ideas about career paths you would like to pursue?
I moved to New Hampshire in 2006 and was working in the food manufacturing industry. In 2018 I was laid off and apprenticeship fell into my lap when I saw an advertisement for it at the NHWorks office in Portsmouth.
How did you hear about the apprenticeship opportunity and what made it seem like a good fit for you?
I am over the age of 40 and had been working for the past 12 years in one industry. I didn’t feel like I was in a position where I could start my life over and move into a minimum wage/entry level job in a new field. I was looking for stability, a way to transfer some of my existing skill, and a job that would help me support my family.
How long is your apprenticeship, and how far along are you right now?
I completed my apprenticeship back in February – it took about two years including the training and education.
What has been the best part of your experience as an apprentice so far?
The best part was getting the instruction on top of the hands-on learning, especially from people who had been in the industry for a long time and were very happy to share their knowledge with new employees. The classroom instruction was also great – I was worried that I was going to have to figure out how to go back to school on top of making a lot less money. But having instruction onsite and learning things that I could apply right away to help me advance in my career took a huge weight off my shoulders. I really was able to earn and learn.
What are some of the biggest ways you feel your apprenticeship has impacted you?
This program was a lifeline when I felt like I needed it the most. The support that I got from my mentors and from upper management at the company made me feel important and invested in. They knew it was more than just hiring someone off the street – if we succeeded, we could be the future of the company.
What do you think are some of the common misconceptions people have about apprenticeship?
A lot of people going into it might think it’s the “old school” apprenticeship where you are working for someone who’s been doing it forever, and that it’s going to take a long time to finish and you won’t make any money. But I think it’s really a way to get your foot in the door and to get a job that you’d otherwise have to go through a lot of training to get. It really is a great way to get a jump start on your career.