Blog right triangle Michelle Martinez Barrandey: How Apprenticeship Created a Path Forward
Future of Work | Gen Z | Workforce Development |

Michelle Martinez Barrandey: How Apprenticeship Created a Path Forward

By Adam Vitcavage

Michelle Martinez Barrandey has found a passion for innovation and precision, law, and engineering thanks to her youth apprenticeship. The intersection of these came about during her time as a legal assistant apprentice at the Polsinelli Law Firm where she discovered just how many paths there are out there for her to take.

When she started her apprenticeship in July of 2022, she was still a year away from graduating from Westminster High School and she wasn’t quite sure what would come next. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted an apprenticeship, but during a recruitment session in her business class she figured it would be smart to take advantage of the skills she could learn from professionals while she was still in high school. She scanned a QR code that opened up options she never knew existed.

“Once I saw the law firm, I thought there was no way they would want someone like me, but I decided to take the chance,” said Michelle. “It felt like it would be demanding and I could challenge myself. I knew if I succeeded at it, I would be able to take the fundamental skills into other fields if things didn’t work out at the law office.”

Even though she wasn’t initially sure what a job at the law office would be, the leap of faith paid off. Suddenly, she could see a career path for herself.

“I didn’t have any direction,” said Michelle.  “I didn’t even know what engineering or patent law was. It’s funny to think back to where I started and where I am now. This apprenticeship taught me where I want to be. This position brought out my passion for engineering and patent law.”

Since graduating from Westminster High School, she has enrolled in the Community College of Denver to pursue mechanical engineering. Her plan is to get the technical skills needed before going to law school to pursue a field in patent law.

All of this has unfolded because of her apprenticeship with Polsinelli. She became more organized, learned how to communicate professionally, and practiced how to break down projects so they don’t become overwhelming.

“The apprenticeship has taught me to poke things from different angles to succeed,” said Michelle. “At work, I’m given the expectation and the result, and they want me to figure out how to get it done. College is similar. I need to figure out things on my own, and I feel prepared to do that now.”

Balancing her position at the law firm with a full-time courseload, Michelle remains committed to her journey. A spur-of-the-moment decision to scan a QR code in high school has led her down a path she never anticipated.