CareerWise apprentice alumna Allison Horner returns to Elkhart County

When Allison Horner started her CareerWise youth apprenticeship with Horizon Education Alliance (HEA) as a sophomore in high school at Northridge High School in Middlebury, Ind., she didn’t imagine she’d still be passionate about apprenticeships years later, but that’s exactly what happened.

Allison’s apprenticeship with HEA involved helping the organization work with Elkhart County schools to place apprenticeship programs in high schools to provide more students with opportunities similar to the one Allison had. While most high school students were struggling to plan their schedules and figure out what to do after graduation, Allison had some clarity because of her apprenticeship.

“My apprenticeship gave me real-world experience and an inside look at new careers within the manufacturing industry,” said Allison. “I also got to work in a professional position and environment to develop my skills.”

Allison started her associate degree during her senior year of high school, and is now completing her business degree at Ferris State University. She also works as a recruiter at a tool and die company in Greenville, Mich.

Her employer has its own journeyman apprenticeship program for adults. When Allison came on board, it sparked a conversation about starting a youth apprenticeship. The company’s youth employment program was redesigned to be more hands-on, and more directed at preparing young people for a career just like modern youth apprenticeships are.

“I took what I learned from my apprenticeship and fine-tuned it for my current role,” said Allison. “I know that continuous learning is an important part of retention.”

She focused on the lessons she learned as an apprentice and helped bring influence from that experience into her current company. The new program resulted in a change in culture and job satisfaction at her current company.

Now there are more younger employees, like herself, who feel more confident to be part of the company and can bring fresh eyes and new ideas. And the growing culture of mentorship is helping rejuvenate longtime employees at the company.

Allison recently accepted another position at an advanced manufacturing company in Goshen, Ind., where she’ll continue to build on the career she started as an apprentice back when she was a sophomore in high school.

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