By Adam Vitcavage
Fatima Amador always had a strong work ethic thanks to her upbringing in her family’s business. However, she wasn’t always certain where to focus her career aspirations. At 17, while graduating from high school a semester early, her interests varied from wanting to be a crime scene investigator to becoming a small business owner.
While attending community college and exploring her options, she had one constant in her life: a full-time job at Pinnacol Assurance, a position she landed through a youth apprenticeship with the company in high school.
“Pinnacol was my first job ever,” said Fatima. “When I started as an apprentice, I knew nothing about professionalism. My apprenticeship taught me valuable skills, including improved writing, time management, and dressing professionally.”
Even though she was unsure about her career direction or what educational degree to pursue, the youth apprenticeship program significantly boosted her self-assurance. After completing the program, she came across a full-time job opening at Pinnacol that she felt empowered to apply for, thanks to her experience as an apprentice.
“The apprenticeship gave me a fantastic network. I met company directors and built strong relationships with them. They were incredibly supportive,” said Fatima. “When I decided to apply for a full-time job, they guided me through the interview process and helped me refine my resume. Although the job was open to the public, my apprenticeship gave me the confidence to pursue it.”
Her confidence paid off; she was hired in a full-time capacity at Pinnacol, which helps fund her education while she considers her future. That confidence also resulted in a promotion from the job she was hired into! Four years after starting as a youth apprentice, Fatima is now an Apprenticeship Program Facilitator. Despite only recently being an apprentice herself, she believes her ability to relate to their experiences will make her an effective mentor.
In one of her initial meetings with an apprentice, they complimented her on her confidence in public speaking, a skill she never thought she excelled in. Reflecting on it, she realized that public speaking is one of her strengths, and she credits her time as a youth apprentice for fast-tracking her from a high school student to a professional who confidently engages with directors and the company’s CEO.
Her interactions with current apprentices are inspiring. Fatima recognizes that she can be the mentor who shapes the lives of younger employees and helps them navigate their future. She understands the challenges of charting a path in one’s teens but also knows how confidence can empower apprentices to make informed decisions.
“I want to help them develop their professionalism,” said Fatima. “When I started, I wasn’t as put together as I am now, and I want them to know that personal growth is possible as long as you invest in yourself.”
At 22-years old, Fatima acknowledges that her career path is not yet fully defined. She is excited about supervising apprentices while continuing her education. Regardless of where she ultimately ends up, she attributes her success to the confidence she gained as a high school student in a youth apprenticeship program.