Apprenticeship Spotlight: February 2022

A selfie of a young blonde woman wearing a thing blue sweater.

Apprentices on Apprenticeships

Insights and advice from members of the ‘Class of ‘21’

WE DIDN’T SET out to make this the “training issue” of the ACDS newsletter. But once we settled on Dr. Donald Walker as this month’s Q & A, it just seemed natural to also include a handful of Registered Apprentices talking about how the kind of training Dr. Walker provides has helped them in their IT careers. That, in turn, gives us another opportunity to tout the new ITArkansas Magazine, from which these adapted and shortened apprenticeship quotes were pulled.

As we told you last month, volume 2 of the print edition of ITArkansas includes a special section on Careers, from both the IT talent and employer points of view. By now, you should be seeing copies of the magazine in schools and in office lobbies, not to mention on the website But if you’d like your own personal copy of the print magazine, please email Jackson Gladden at Arkansas Times (, and he’ll shoot one out to you via snail mail. Meanwhile, we’re proud to present the following “success stories” from some of last year’s stellar crop of IT apprentices.



MY APPRENTICESHIP HAS definitely shaped and really defined my career as a Quality Assurance Test Engineer in the best ways possible. I’ve been able to receive basically unlimited mentorship, on-the-job training, and plenty of additional technical training to further advance me as an IT professional. My main advice for future apprentices is that this is a constantly changing industry with so many domains that you never truly have to stick to one forever—switch it up, keep things interesting, and as clichéd as it sounds, just never stop learning.

Justice Baker, Metova

YOU MAY NOT realize just how much you gain by participating in an apprenticeship, but once you start to use that knowledge in your position and within your company, it’s such a satisfying feeling. I will forever use what I’ve learned going forward in my career. I feel like I’ve had a “career” for a long time, yet, somehow, I now feel like I have a “fulfilling career.” If you’re given the opportunity to be a part of an apprenticeship, take it—you’ll never regret it.

– Kelsey Hedrick, ACDS

SINCE COMPLETING MY apprenticeship program, I not only received a very nice pay increase from my employer, I also was moved into a network-security-related role. My apprenticeship greatly prepared me to tackle the day-to-day tasks in my new role, which also helped me feel more confident in my personal life. I was blessed to have a great group of people to help guide me, and I’ll be forever grateful.

– Kris Haire, Oaklawn

I’M SO THANKFUL to be a part of the ACDS apprenticeship program, not only because I was able to be placed with a great company like SkuNinja + WhyteSpyder. I’m also thankful because the apprenticeship helped me find the confidence that I had lost after stagnating for years in my career. The training and mentorship I received helped me see the value in the skills I already had and allowed me to develop those skills toward a career that I know I’ll be able to grow with.

– Laura Weiderhaft, SkuNinja + WhyteSpyder

I’VE HAD THREE role changes since starting the apprenticeship program! I’m very excited by this latest change—working in a Division Data Analyst role with our Data Science team—because I’m learning a lot and hope to become a Data Scientist eventually. I feel like this career change can be directly linked to the apprenticeship, in which I was exposed to multiple technical processes, such as Java, javascript, html, and SQL. It helps when you can discuss new technology, especially in interviews. It also helps when you don’t feel overwhelmed about learning new things, because you know you can do it since you’ve done it already. I’m learning R right now, and a lot of the logic is similar to things I’ve done in the past. That’s another helpful aspect of the apprenticeship—expanding my logical and analytical mindset.

– Jodi-Ann Clough, Arvest Bank