Local Grad Uses Apprenticeship Opportunity to Find Career, Clarity, and a Head Start

  • Apprentice Name: Andrea Hernandez
  • High School: Dalton McMichael High School
  • Home Town: Madison, NC
  • Grade Level: Senior
  • Company Name: Amcor Speciality Cartons 
  • Role: Quality Assurance
  • Start Date: June 2018

Sitting at a desk isn’t Andrea Hernandez’ favorite learning style. Apprenticeship helped move her out of the traditional classroom and into an environment where she could learn by doing.

A senior at Dalton McMichael High School, Andrea began the year with a lot of uncertainty around her future education and career path. She thought she might go to a community college after high school, but didn’t want to worry about student loans down the road. 

When she learned that apprenticeship would allow her to get a college education, hands-on work experience, and a paycheck, she was all ears. 

Andrea was introduced to the program by Lydia Craddock, an advisor at Randolph Community College. When she decided to apply, her High School Career Director, Rhonda Collins, helped her with every step of the process, including completing all the necessary paperwork.

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“Everyone was very enthusiastic, supportive, and positive,” Andrea said.

She recalls that it was both overwhelming and exciting to learn how many opportunities were available.

“In the pre-apprentice phase, it was very nerve-wracking as representatives from different companies watched us applicants perform different projects,” she recalled. “I was relieved when I heard that I got in.”

Andrea was matched with Amcor Speciality Cartons in Reidsville, NC – a global leader in premium carton manufacturing. Working in both the customer service and quality assurance areas of the business, she has been able to see how innovation enhances production.

“I put together folders that have all the information about our products,” she explained. “We test projects to ensure their quality and  work to ensure that processes are set up properly.”

Andrea fully intends on continuing her work with Amcor, migrating from an apprentice to a full-time employee.

With her work experience, an advanced manufacturing degree, and a journeyman certificate, she will be qualified to do so.

“Overall, the [apprentice] program is great because you get on-the-job training and a career path without debt,” Andrea said. “Working at Amcor has been great because I went from sitting behind a desk to working with my hands and gaining experience.”

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