Since opening its doors in Oklahoma City in 2004, Dell Technologies has provided jobs to thousands of Oklahomans. The company focuses on providing technology support for clients and partners across the globe, while empowering employees to volunteer their time and resources in the community.
In 2017, Dell Technologies partnered with the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development (OOWD) to create the Dell Scholar Apprentice Program. The program combines Dell’s expertise with its commitment to the community. Dell collaborated with ASTEC Charter School in Oklahoma City and began the apprenticeship program with a select group of high school juniors.
Through the program, apprentices work at Dell Technologies while completing their high school diploma and earn credit by attending college-level classes. Mentors from Dell Technologies teach apprentices the skills needed to excel in the technology industry by providing them on-the-job training and real-world experiences that will allow them to pursue careers in the tech industry.
“We originally partnered with ASTEC Charter School to start a mentorship program,” said Lynae Greely, senior manager for technical support at Dell Technologies. “But we quickly recognized the students’ talent and ambition, and we wanted to do more to develop those valuable traits. We approached the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development and ASTEC Charter School with our idea, and they were very supportive and enthusiastic about collaborating.”
Greely helped start the two-year apprenticeship program that involves learning Dell Technologies’ systems and culture, coursework at Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City campus, teambuilding activities and partnership with a senior Dell Technologies’ team member as a mentor. Apprentices can train in a variety of departments in Oklahoma City or at other Dell Technologies’ locations across the country. Students are encouraged to join employee network groups to learn about other specialized work.
The Dell Technologies’ apprentices receive wages and benefits as Dell employees from the moment they start their on the job learning. The training they receive in the program allows them to hit the ground running as new hires, while contributing to the company in a valuable way.
Some of the unexpected benefits of the program are the joy and pride mentors receive from working closely with the apprentices. The experiences for each mentor have been extremely valuable as they invest in the lives of the apprentices and watch them grow their confidence and skills.
“Our employees are some of the biggest advocates of the program,” said Greely. “The mentors are heavily invested in the apprentices. The mentors really want to help them not only grow their technology skills as they start their careers, but also grow interpersonal skills, instilling confidence and leadership traits that are so valuable in the workforce. In doing so, this re-energizes the mentors’ passion they have for their own jobs.”
The Dell Scholar Apprentice Program is a shining example of how registered apprenticeships can help improve a business at every level. According to Greely, the program mentors and standout apprentices travel the state speaking with other companies looking to develop similar programs. This outreach team attends leadership summits including the Governor’s STEM Conference, Career Exposure Week Kick-Off with the Governor, and Oklahoma Works Partners Conference. The successful programs OOWD offers to communities across Oklahoma serve employers and organizational leaders as well as those entering the workforce.
“Helping our fellow team members, community and company grow, while serving our clients around the world is ingrained in our culture,” said Greely. “We certainly want our apprentices to continue with Dell Technologies – and most all of them stay to find fulfilling career opportunities here – but ultimately, we want them to learn the skills and characteristics they need to be successful in their communities, the greater technology industry and beyond.”