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By Lanna Hernandez | CareerWise communications apprentice
In June of 2020, 17-year-old financial services apprentice Dalia Aguirre joined Alpine Bank in Eagle County. In her apprenticeship, she’s learning technical aspects of the job. But just as importantly, she’s learning professional soft skills, such as adaptability and communication, and developing a professional network—benefits of her apprenticeship that will last a lifetime.
“I learn a lot about banking, like budgeting my money and how to get a credit score. Things a lot of people my age aren’t taught in high school,” she said. Dalia continues to learn skills like these that help her in her everyday life, and career skills that she can carry on such as developing professional relationships with her customers that enter the bank, and her co-workers.
Julie Herr, senior vice president at Alpine Bank and Dalia’s supervisor, makes sure that she is set up for success as an apprentice and whatever her career might bring in the future.
“In assigning Dalia’s projects, I want her to learn something new and continue team work, and to be a role model. We all have to do our part. As a supervisor it’s important that you grow your team as much as possible,” said Julie.
Julie has Dalia and the bank’s other CareerWise apprentices take on daily tasks that develop over time with social interaction, practice, and confidence. “The growth in confidence and knowledge from when our apprentices started to now is remarkable,” said Julie. “These aren’t things that are easily taught—they’re picked up from working alongside other professionals. Apprentices mirror what’s going on. If someone else is in a hurry, they’ll pick up the pace. And from these social cues and body language they learn to problem solve.”
Every day Dalia comes in contact with someone she tends to recognize at the front desk, remembering customer names and building ongoing relationships with them through simple things like exchanging weekend plans.
Julie continues to be impressed with the way Dalia builds connections and relationships with her customers. And it’s that same set of skills that enables her to develop relationships with her co-workers.
“Through my apprenticeship I can build a career with lots of opportunities available to me because I have connections at a young age—all of my colleagues know what I’m capable of because I work with them every day.” The soft skills Dalia is developing in her apprenticeship are also skills she’s using to develop her professional network. And that professional network will create the social capital to fuel her continued learning and career growth.
Essential soft skills like communication, collaboration and problem solving are developing youth apprentices like Dalia into savvy professionals. It’s demonstrated in the relationships they’re making with customers and co-workers, in the difference they’re making for their employers and in the trajectory of their young careers.