Q: Why did you choose to pursue a career as a Medical Assistant?
A: I chose to become a Medical Assistant because I have always wanted to work in healthcare and help people. Being in the healthcare field is the best way for me to care for others.
Q: What did you do before working for Shawnee Health?
A: Before working for Shawnee Health, I was a part-time secretary for a local church. Since it was part-time, I was able to focus on my apprenticeship.
Q: How did you learn about the apprenticeship?
A: My mother works for Shawnee Health and received an email about the new apprenticeship program through Shawnee; she told me about the new program, and I jumped at the opportunity.
Q: How has the apprenticeship experience been beneficial?
A: The apprenticeship allowed me to practice what I was learning as I learned it. When you can learn and then experience what you learned about firsthand, it helps you better understand.
Q: What advice would you give a new apprentice?
A: I advise any new apprentice to pay attention and try to learn as much as possible. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Be willing to try new things and learn from others.
Growing up in Pilsen, Alan Rodriguez saw his parents working hard in the hospitality industry. His mother and father were employed at a chain restaurant, enduring long hours, inadequate pay, various complicated characters, and even fear. College wasn’t a financial option for Alan, but that didn’t stop him from wanting a career. Right after high school, Alan started working at McCormick Place, where his father had his second job, setting up meeting rooms and cleaning the building. A manager later offered Alan a better-paid position as a porter. “I loved the energy.” Alan saw that a hospitality job could be good and quickly realized he wanted to be in the kitchen.
Even though he enjoyed the new position, Alan had not given up on his dream of a career and started looking into apprenticeship programs. Fortunately, Alan was involved with his union, UNITE HERE Local 1, and learned about the opportunity to apply for a spot in the second cohort of UHCHI’s Culinary Apprenticeship. Alan was thrilled when he learned that UHCHI did not require a U.S. birth certificate and looked forward to the career opportunity before him. “I was excited to learn about the correct terms in the kitchen, nutrition, and the right temperatures for food.”
He smiled, “I was excited because I was going to learn how to play with fire.” Alan’s excitement also came with some apprehension. He felt nervous because it seemed like the other applicants and his future coworkers had years of experience in the kitchen when he had none. But Alan found a supportive community at UHCHI. “My fellow apprentices gave me a lot of support since they had previous culinary experience. They would tell me or show me when I didn’t understand,” said Alan. “Chef Victor felt like my mentor. Any question, he was always there. He would check on me and make sure I did stuff right. He put a lot of time and energy into me. I always had that support.”
UHCHI built Alan’s confidence and career trajectory. Alan was placed with Compass Levy at the United Center for on-the-job training. After just two years, he helps prepare food for both Bulls and Blackhawks players and is slated to become a Cook I next season. He feels proud of being a graduate of the Apprenticeship program and confident in the skills he learned at UHCHI. His coworkers at the United Center recognize his expertise, “People come up to me for help. I’m fortunate enough to have an answer when they ask me questions. It makes me feel confident.” As a graduate of UHCHI’s Culinary Apprenticeship, Alan is now one of the first Culinary Journeyworkers in Illinois and holds five certifications. When reflecting on how UHCHI impacted his future, Alain said, “Where I grew up, sometimes the environment didn’t promote following your dreams. Sometimes young people don’t understand what’s possible until their late 20s. With UHCHI, you realize you could turn this into a career. You have places to go from here. It’s a great opportunity because it will open doors and maybe some folks’ eyes. Added Alan, “UHCHI prepared me well. There’s always something to learn in the kitchen. No matter how much you know, you still learn something.
Nataly Gómez is a Medical Assistant apprentice with Shawnee Health.
- Why did you choose to pursue a career as a Medical Assistant?
I have always known that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. I decided to pursue a career as a Medical Assistant because it would allow me to work with people and care for their health. Medical assisting is a great way to learn new skills, work with people directly, and learn health care's administrative portion.
- What did you do before working for Shawnee Health?
I already worked with Shawnee Health as a professional medical interpreter.
- How did you learn about the apprenticeship?
I learned about the apprenticeship through social media. I had no clue that Shawnee Health would offer an apprenticeship program until I saw it posted on their Facebook page.
- How has the apprenticeship experience been beneficial?
This program has been beneficial because it has taught me many new skills and provided a job for me as well. I learned my skills while working as a Medical Assistant, and Shawnee has provided apprentices with any help or practice they may need with their skills. You work next to many experienced Medical Assistants that help provide guidance and knowledge for all these new skills.
- What advice would you give a new apprentice?
My advice is to take advantage of this great opportunity! It's an excellent program for people wanting a job in the medical field, and the healthcare facility will cover costs. This specific program is entirely online, benefiting those with a busy schedule. It is also a short program, so your new skills will be put to practice in no time.
For some high school students, deciding what to do after graduation is difficult. Head straight into the workforce? Join the military? Go away to college or choose an institution near home? But for David Mooshool, joining an apprenticeship program with the College of DuPage (COD) was an easy decision. Because David was involved in a Youth Apprentice Program during his senior year, he had already spent time learning about careers in manufacturing and gained hands-on experience that helped him feel confident in his choice.
During his senior year, David joined the new Youth Apprenticeship Program (YAP) at York High School in Elmhurst, which allowed him to get hands-on experience working in manufacturing. After completing course requirements in the morning, David traveled to a manufacturing facility in the afternoon to work with Simplex System Controls Inc. Through his placement with the Youth Apprenticeship Program, David rotated through roles at Simplex System Control Inc., including shipping/receiving, assembly, and quality control. Participation in a YAP provides high school students with valuable experience, allowing them to explore careers while earning wages.
“I enjoyed my work experience, and toward the end of my senior year of high school, my manufacturing teacher mentioned that I could continue with my work and education through the Project Hire-Ed program at COD. It seemed like an amazing program to be a part of, and after talking with counselors, I decided to enroll after graduation.”
Youth Apprenticeships also give apprentices a head start on their careers. When David entered the Project Hire-Ed apprenticeship program at the College of DuPage, he had already earned over 600 hours that could be counted towards his on-the-job training hours required for the Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program with the College of DuPage as an Electromechanical Technician.
David expects to complete his coursework at the College of DuPage in December 2024, earning a certificate in Applied Technology, then, he plans to continue his education at COD to earn an Associate’s degree in Manufacturing Technology.
“COD is helping me toward my goals by giving me the education and skills I need to perform well at my company. So far, all of my professors at COD have been great. They have many years of work/teaching experience and are very good at explaining confusing topics.”
The transition from being a Youth Apprentice to starting college and joining a Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship program at College of DuPage is seamless, as the team with Project Hire-Ed is there to guide the employer and apprentice in every step. David advises anyone considering a Youth Apprenticeship or Registered Apprenticeship with the College of DuPage: “Definitely do it!”