The Apprentice Belton program hosted their kickoff for the semester in Bawcom Student Union in the McLane Great Hall Jan. 21.
The program is a partnership between Belton’s Chamber of Commerce and the university’s career center that provides mentors to students.
Director of Career Services Don Owens and the chamber came to each other with the same idea about Apprentice Belton roughly four years ago when they heard about the Apprentice Austin program in Austin, TX.
“It was certainly God’s being involved and us all being on the same page at the same time that made the program possible,” Owens said.
Sophomore, junior and senior students must submit an application and a reference letter by mid-October to be considered for the program in the spring semester.
Once a student applies, they will be contacted for an interview by the university and chamber. The university and the chamber then find mentors in each of the students’ chosen majors.
Owens believes that students should be involved with this program so they can get a true feel for their profession before they walk across the stage.
“I think students should apply to get a bird’s eye view of what it’s really like in that field,” Owens said. “A lot of us have these concepts of certain careers but we don’t realize it’s a lot of hard work. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of every job. There’s an old saying that says if you love what you do, you won’t have to work a day of your life. We want our students to have a passion and a calling for their career.”
Thirteen students have been paired with professionals from the Belton and Temple area for this semester’s Apprentice Belton. The students will be required to meet with their mentor six times throughout the spring semester, whether it’s to discuss how the student’s semester is going over coffee or to shadow the professional on the job. At the end of April there will be a closing ceremony where participants will receive a certificate and they will be able to speak about their experience.
“Through Apprentice Belton, I was able to gain a mentor in the medical field who has been able to help me navigate through my journey towards becoming a physician. While I also gained many hours of shadowing experience, what stood out to me more is the practical knowledge I gained through talking with Dr. Wooldridge about her experiences in the medical field,” said senior cell biology pre-med major and Apprentice Belton alumni Autumn Brewer.
Junior BCIS major with a minor in Christian studies Ashli Adams is participating in the program this semester, and she believes that the program will benefit her greatly.
“With computers you can go literally anywhere.It’ll give me some insight into what I want to do. I’m pretty sure the person I’m paired with is really good with what they do, and they can help me understand it better, and just get better at it myself,” Adams said.
Sophomore psychology major Bailey Barry, a previous participant, believes that the program is a worthwhile and helpful experience. During Bailey’s time with Apprentice Belton, she was paired with a child life specialist from McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.
“I really liked that I got to make connections. I was blessed to be with a great mentor who has been my mentor beyond the Apprentice Belton experience,” Barry said. Mr. Owens recalls one student that came into the program wanting to be a public school guidance counselor. This student changed his mind about the
direction of his career after being in the program. “He came out of that program pulling his hair… However, from that experience, he said, ‘…I want to continue my degree in counseling, but I want to assist our military coming back from war zones to help them transition from the war zone to being a parent.’ In a way, that’s probably the crystal testimonial of them all because he saw that he didn’t want to be the everyday public school counselor, and he wanted to do something different. [The program] gave him that vision.”