Earlier this year, we launched our first engineering apprenticeship program. Since then, Nava was humbled to receive more than 350 applications from people all over the country. Today, we are thrilled to welcome our first cohort of engineering apprentices: Shannon Alexander-Navarro, Alsia Plybeah, and Rubaiyat Rashid. Apprentices will be paired with Nava engineers working on projects that impact how thousands of people interact with government.
“It’s important to me that I work at a company where the products I’m working on have a positive impact on people’s lives,” said Shannon Alexander-Navarro, who was a program manager at the nonprofit Pursuit before joining Nava. “Both my parents are public servants and I get to see firsthand how rewarding this work can be.”
Growing with intention
Nava launched its full-time, four-month apprenticeship program to continue building a talented and inclusive engineering team. Over the past four years, Nava has grown from a team of six to nearly 80. We represent 49% women and over 50% underrepresented backgrounds in tech, with leadership represented by majority women and 45% people of color. In order for us to deliver digital services that are simple, effective, and accessible to everyone, it’s important that as we grow, our staff continues to reflect the diverse communities we serve.
“I never thought it was possible for me to get a starting position at a company whose values were so aligned with mine,” said Rubaiyat Rashid, a graduate of Hunter College who teaches after-school STEM classes for elementary school students. “I believe in government as a force for good and I want to help improve it with modern engineering.”
Studies show that recruiting people from underrepresented backgrounds at the start of their careers and providing mentorship are two of the highest impact levers for increasing diversity across an organization. This apprenticeship, unlike an internship, provides on-the-job skill development, salary, and a clear path towards full-time employment. Apprentices will receive dedicated mentorship and the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment.
“I’m a full stack engineer and I want to continue exploring what I want my career path to look like — I’m excited to explore DevOps and front-end engineering at Nava,” said Alsia Plybeah, a former librarian who graduated from General Assembly’s coding bootcamp.
What’s next and shoutouts
This is our first cohort, so we’re looking forward to sharing the successes and lessons learned. We also hope to learn from others who have started similar programs so please reach out!
We are inspired by other organizations that have made immense strides in this area. New America launched the Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative to expand American apprenticeships in 2017. Coding It Forward built the Civic Digital Fellowship as a pipeline for college students to enter into public service in 2017 as well. Code for America launched its own apprenticeship program to equalize access to opportunities in tech in January of last year. These programs are fantastic blueprints and demonstrate the hunger for opportunities to enter into the public interest technology space.