“take the path to Nothing, and go Nowhere until you reach it.”
- the tao of pooh
apprenticeship.io aims to be the largest public, open source, non-profit hub for technology apprenticeships in the United States. We track and report on evolving, local city level ecosystems — including apprentices, employers, schools, partners, and networks — in order to drive growth and improve outcomes in technology apprenticeships. We’re on a mission to create and expand alternative pathways to technology careers, encouraging upward mobility and upholding the American dream.
We believe technology apprenticeships hold the strongest potential for solving several of America’s most pressing education and workforce problems — including the student loan crisis, abysmal college completion rates, economic recovery from COVID-19, rising economic inequality, ongoing cultural crises over the role of the corporation in society, decreasing rates of corporate participation in employee training and employability, and diversity, equity and inclusion in the technology industry — all at the same time.
Our 3 organizational values remain transparency, accessibility and accountability. In the spirit of one of our dearest and most important values, transparency, this review will contain details that might otherwise be incorrectly construed as unprofessional or inconsequential. Contrary to archaic beliefs about emotional labor and interpersonal care, especially in the workplace, we sweat the details, evaluate our impact in broad terms, and believe our honesty better serves all our stakeholders.
In the spirit of exposing our ignorance, weaknesses, and struggles so others can learn and help us as we build in public, we are happy to disclose the day to day realities of doing this work. This includes but is not limited to the mental health of our founder, the sacrifices and effects of this early stage work on our family, friends, and partners, and our research, mistakes, and learnings along the way.
This Quarter’s Apprenticeship News
This quarter, we were thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Northern California Apprentice Network (NCAN) with support from Aon and Accenture, we celebrated Multiverse’s $44 million raise (formerly White Hat, a UK based apprenticeship company) to expand apprenticeships across the United States, the launches of new technology apprenticeships at both Apple and Google (finally!), the expansion of Pinterest’s apprenticeship program into product and UX, and LinkedIn REACH, one of the largest technology apprenticeships in the United States, hiring new cohorts in emerging fields: Back End Engineering, Site Reliability Engineering, and Machine Learning Engineering. Huzzah!
This Quarter’s Wins
- Technology: We revamped the UI of the entire site using Tailwind CSS, implemented a new Bay Area page using Mapbox (which serves as an MVP of the kind of functionality the API could enable for any organization’s use in the future!), and launched the apprenticeship.io blog using Ghost.
- Podcast: We launched 15 podcast episodes featuring apprentices from Microsoft, IBM, thoughtbot, Twitter, 8th Light, Uber, Twilio, LinkedIn, Trunk Club, and Indeed, including 2 episodes per week during the entire month of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. We edited and produced all episodes in house using Descript, keeping costs extremely low. We also produced written transcripts of all our shows, upholding our beliefs around accessibility. We completed the inaugural On Deck Podcasters fellowship on a scholarship this quarter. All things considered, it was miraculous and a heroic effort in the world of our podcast this quarter.
- Community: Kam took Carrie Melissa Jones’ inaugural Engage Your Community Course to develop and refine best practices, and thought long and hard about what to do for our community migration and re-launch and when. We surpassed 1K newsletter subscribers and continue growing 100+ subscribers per month using only organic word of mouth discovery, and no formal marketing. We launched our 1st transparency report, you’re reading it!
This Quarter’s Lows
- Technology: We did not have funding to update, scrub and restructure the existing and new data for the API yet, despite scoping and planning the project in hopes we could do so this quarter. Our 1st significant funding event will allow for this investment.
- Podcast: We were only able to successfully partner with 1 employer to co-launch an episode, but the content wasn’t released on the 8th Light blog until the following week. We created a bunch of free content for Uber, whose corporate communications team deleted several of the episodes juiciest moments, and promptly ghosted us without sharing any of the custom white label content we made for them for Women’s History Month. Partnerships with employers remain notoriously inefficient and sporadic.
- Community: We put a formal pause on re-launching our community platform this quarter, but stayed connected and learned more about Circle. The focus was kept on fundraising and re-launching the podcast.
This Quarter’s Organizational Asks
- Non-Profit Bookkeeping and Accounting: Can you recommend an experienced and affordable non-profit bookkeeper? Are you familiar enough with the process that you can guide or teach Kam best practices to maintain our minimal finances temporarily? This would be super helpful!
- API Development and Data Modeling: Have you built a production API from scratch? Have you scrubbed and structured large datasets for ongoing maintainability and usability? Are you passionate about web scraping? Have you built surveying and data retrieval systems before? We could use a primer on best practices and strategy.
- Founding Advisor Referrals: We continue to expand our network in technology, workforce development, grassroots movement building, and adult education. If you know anyone who would make an outstanding Founding Advisor, we’d be happy to meet with them.
Q1 2021 in Review
At the beginning of the quarter, originally inspired by conversations with Ginny Fahs and her work with #MovingForward, a grassroots movement to establish system wide harassment policies within the venture capital industry, we were in ongoing discussions and contractual agreements with Philanthropic Ventures Foundation to become a fiscally sponsored project under their non-profit umbrella.
Due to tough technology restrictions, namely the inability to use Stripe, Patreon, and Mercury to manage our fundraising and financial processes, we ultimately decided this path would not be sustainable for the organization’s long term growth. We’re grateful to both Dawn Hawk and James Higa for their support at the earliest and most confused moments learning about non-profit administration and management.
We’re also grateful to Jon Gottfried at Major League Hacking (MLH) for entertaining our questions about pursuing project support via their open source fellowship program. We also explored Open Collective, but ultimately received no support about organization registration and set up, so this path did not seem viable, despite being a very popular platform to fund open source technology.
Learning #1: it remains incredibly difficult and time intensive to learn open source non-profit technology management best practices and tools. There seems to be a great divide between traditional non-profit programs and open source technology products. We work at this intersection, which makes what we do more confusing.
Incorporating a 501(c)3 ourselves will likely turn out to be a more expensive route, however, it gives us much more flexibility and power in receiving grants and donations on our own terms, especially from city, state, and federal government agencies, subsidiaries, and contractors.
Thus, we began the process to incorporate apprenticeship.io as a 501(c)3 non-profit in February 2021 with Resilia, a Black owned non-profit incorporation fast tracking tool founded by Sevetri Wilson. Our 1023(EZ) application was submitted at the beginning of March, and should be approved by the IRS before the end of June. In the meantime, donations received during this quarter can be offered retroactive tax deductible status upon our IRS approval.
In order to close out the incorporation process as quickly as possible, Kathy Mannix (Kam’s mom) and Annie Fraser (Kam’s best friend) were added to the organization’s board for logistical purposes (thank you both!), with the agreement that they’d be replaced within the year of getting our organizational status approved with the IRS. We hope several members of the Founding Advisor group will be excited to serve on our board within the year.
Jack Klauschie (Kam’s father, and a CA licensed attorney), remains the Registered Agent of the organization who can receive and process official paperwork on behalf of the organization, due to Kam’s ongoing quarantine abroad. Her parents remain quite worried of the tax implications of Kam’s administrative decisions, including fears around receiving a lien on their home and losing their retirement funds due incorporating utilizing home addresses out of dire necessity. They have also received IRS fraud scams, and we are monitoring the situation alongside the support of Resilia.
Learning #2: the financial and tax implications of these seemingly basic, but non-trivial administrative decisions remain an ongoing burden and source of confusion and fear. Kam lovingly laments the dynamics between worried parents and entrepreneurial children. There’s nothing quite like business incorporation and the tax code to remind you how little you know.
Kam conducted a pre-emptive call with Pilot for accounting and bookkeeping services and evaluated Bench as a competitor, in order to learn more and abate these ongoing financial and tax concerns, but currently has more or less — honestly — no idea what to do. No one in this realm seems to have definitive or clear answers, especially as a non-profit. Kam is considering purchasing a non-profit bookkeeping and accounting training course and running the finance function herself for the next several months, for as long and as cheaply as possible.
If you have any ideas, thoughts or reflections on the administrative and financial aspects of incorporation and organization management, Kam is truly all ears on this topic — and ready for some laughs, some commisery, and some strong drinks while we’re at it.
Founding Advisor Updates
We’re excited to announce 3 Founding Advisors joined us this quarter.
One of our Founding Advisors will remain anonymous for professional reasons related to the technology company they currently work for full time and previous startup dynamics. Nonetheless, this anonymous advisor’s support is truly cherished and a full circle moment for us. As Marcus Aurelius once said, “the best revenge is not to be like that.”
In other Founding Advisor news, we’re super happy to confirm Mike Roberts in San Diego and Luke Wallace in San Luis Obispo as our 1st Founding Advisors. With their leadership, we’re excited to launch San Diego and San Luis Obispo on our platform as our next cities whose apprenticeship ecosystem we will map, giving us broad reach across the state of California.
We have 11 ongoing conversations with prospective Founding Advisors still open and delayed due to Kam contracting COVID-19, as well as 20+ additional asks yet to be made. Our goal remains to cover basic ongoing expenses and costs for operation with the generous support and validation of our Founding Advisors.
Due to the large volume of fellowship and accelerator applications this quarter and Kam getting COVID-19 unexpectedly, we did not reach our initial goal to close 20 Founding Advisors in Q1, but are on track to do so in the next few months.
If you’d like to confirm your contribution and participation as a Founding Advisor, you can do so here.
We built a pipeline of $340,000 worth of accelerator and fellowship grants to get started formally launching the organization, excluding a moonshot with Jack Dorsey’s Start Small Fund. The programs represented behind that number are Y Combinator ($100K), Robin Hood Catalyst ($60K), Fast Forward ($25K), Echoing Green ($80K), Roddenbury Fellowship ($50K). As a moonshot, we asked for $500,000 from Jack Dorsey’s Start Small Fund. This amount would allow us to work on the project for almost 2 years without additional funding.
We have been rejected by Y Combinator, Robin Hood Catalyst, and Fast Forward so far.
If we apply to YC again, we would do so early with referrals from Kevin, CEO at Pathrise and Grace, Co-Founder of Watsi (the 1st non-profit ever funded by YC) who graciously offered their support in a last minute ask that was too late to make a difference for our late Summer 2021 application. It remains unclear whether or not we will or should apply for YC’s Winter batch in 2022.
To rebuild the fundraising pipeline, we are preparing applications for the Transcend Fellowship, TechStars Workforce Development Accelerator ($100K) and the Uncharted Economic Inequality Accelerator ($25K) in Q2.
We spoke with Nicole Jarbo, Jen Curry (via gracious referral from Lindsay, thank you!), and Ahmed Farag Soliman about logic mapping, theory of change, and consulting services for grant strategy and grant writing. We have an outstanding quote with Jen for 32 hours of fundraising support, and hope to be able to work with her starting in June. We’re working with the gracious and incredible Ahmed on a pro-bono basis on the weekends to develop and refine our logic map and theory of change in the interim.
Thanks to Orrian Willis, we were added into a $500K slingshot grant proposal with the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) alongside TechSF, Bay Area Video Coalition, and Bay Area Council in February, which was just approved in May. We’re hopeful we should receive a ~$50K grant to launch our API within the greater Bay Area, and possibly Sacramento, in conjunction with the launch and development of the Northern California Apprentice Network (NCAN) before August.
We’re trying to meet regularly with TechSF, apprenti, Bay Area Council, New America, Jobs for the Future (JFF), Opportunity@Work, New Profit, Tipping Point, James Irvine Foundation, and several other key workforce organizations to stay in the loop and get written into ecosystem grants alongside these legends. We’ve been fortunate and hustling to meet regularly with several of these organizations’ key leaders this quarter.
Ghost, Tailwind CSS, and Mapbox Implementation
- New blog.apprenticeship.io hosted by Ghost.org
- New Apply Now page featuring open apprenticeships
- New Bay Area page implementing Mapbox
- New Press, Privacy, Conduct, and Terms pages (CYA!)
- New API page to gather employer interest
- New Podcast page, including new podcast art
Kam is grateful for her ongoing technical mentor and accountability buddy Lionel Lints for his advice and companionship in React, Airtable, and styling.
We began the process of migrating from Slack to Circle with a recent promotion Circle ran offering a lot of additional resources like community builder AMAs and 1:1 time with their team, but remain in need of more time in the day in order to launch the new private, custom community platform for apprenticeship.io.
If we learned anything from launching our initial Slack group with about ~100 past and present apprentices last year, it’s that community building is a tremendous amount of ongoing work to keep active, relevant, and valuable. We will get there.
If you would like to volunteer or offer best practices about launching a community such as ours, especially on the platform Circle, we would be thrilled to hear from you.
In the meantime, we updated and re-launched our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, with Twitter coming soon. We plan to launch on YouTube and SoundCloud this quarter for additional discovery. We surpassed 1K subscribers on our newsletter this quarter, and grow by about 100 subscribers per month organically. Q2 and Q3 will heavily focus on community lunch, content marketing, distribution and growth in ways that were logistically challenging in Q1.
Podcast Re-Launch & Women’s History Month: In March 2021, we re-launched the podcast with 8 time capsule episodes on a cadence of 2 per week for the month. As expected, but nevertheless attempted, this was overwhelming for a team of 1. It was a tremendous amount of work. In order to keep up with production of the podcast, we hired a remote virtual assistant via Magic, who didn’t work out and was taken off our project mid-way through our March launch. This put a huge delay on content creation, distribution, and promotion, and it became very difficult to edit and produce the episodes. We were able to re-hire a new amazing virtual assistant later in April, but remain incredibly behind in promoting and distributing the show. She’ll be formally introduced and added to the team page shortly! We are endlessly grateful to the 10 apprentices who shared their stories so openly and vulnerably on the 1st season of the newly rebranded Makin’ It podcast.
Shoutout to Roche Janken (Uber, San Francisco), Meredith Jones (LinkedIn, Sunnyvale), Lupita Davila (Twilio, San Francisco), Amelia Padua (Trunk Club, Chicago), Ian Carroll (8th Light, Los Angeles), Yuridia Larios (Indeed, San Francisco), Sandy Cao (Twitter, San Francisco), Jenna Ritten (IBM, Austin), Grace Macjones (Microsoft, Seattle), and Saron Yitbarek (thoughtbot and CodeNewbie, New York). Listen to their stories wherever you get your podcasts!
A special thank you to Alejandra Castillo (Airbnb, San Francisco), Lyn Muldrow (LinkedIn, Sunnyvale), FJ Collins (Intuit, San Diego), John Holman (Intuit, Mountain View), and Derrick Carr (thoughtbot, San Francisco), whose episodes remain in the archive for now. We look forward to hopefully sharing your stories on the show soon!
In re-launching the show, we pursued employer and school partnerships. We put a lot of our eggs into Uber’s basket (our 1st episode launch), hoping that they would co-promote alongside us due to a warm introduction to their corporate communications team in charge of their Engineering blog (thank you, Roche!).
We were able to partner with the one and only 8th Light on a blog post about our podcast episode, for whom we are deeply grateful. We are in the process of partnering with Techtonica to co-launch Yuridia Larios’ content, experiencing delays due to Kam contracting COVID-19 when the episode launched. Due to these setbacks, partnerships with employers will not remain an ongoing priority, as more cheap, effective, and efficient growth can be achieved outside of employer networks for the podcast at this time.
Podcast analytics are remarkably terrible, but we average about 150 listens per month, without having promoted consistently, distributed content to guests, schools, and employers, or optimized for SEO yet. Q3 holds in store a lot of focus on distribution and promotion of the show, which is why we’re pausing with the season finale episode with Saron Yitbarek from thoughtbot and CodeNewbie. We have already begun sourcing new apprentices across the country and across a wide variety of industries and identities with a plan to launch a new season likely in August 2021.
This quarter, Kam participated in the inaugural On Deck Podcasters fellowship on scholarship, and learned many industry best practices about audio content creation, distribution, and monetization, and joined a warm and sweet community of fellow sloggers through the audio content creation world. Podcasting is more work than ever previously imagined, and it is invaluable to have a group of folks to learn and commiserate with on a regular basis. As a result of the fellowship, Kam met fellow fellow Grace Macjones, a former apprentice at Microsoft LEAP and interviewed her for the show! You rock, Grace!
This quarter was quite challenging and logistically complex for Kam for a variety of reasons.
Due to the deep and grueling challenges of pandemic cohabitation with a romantic life partner (can I get an amen?), Kam moved to Florianopolis to live with her good friend Lais de Oliveira in January, where she got a front row seat to all things On Deck Community Builders fellowship and supported Lais through a very tough breakup, ultimately culminating in the addition of Peanut and Amendoim (Peanut in Portuguese) — two sweet, wild little Border Collie pups. They are not so little anymore.
In hopes of returning home to California, Kam left Brazil at the beginning of February 2021, during the peak of the 2nd wave in the United States, and settled temporarily in a rural beach town in Mexico to avoid high transmission rates in major cities and await better circulation of the vaccine across the United States. This move involved long solo international flights across Latin America with her French bulldog pup, Buzi, and a large roadtrip across Southern Mexico.
Puerto Escondido, the town where she settled in Oaxaca, has much more challenging infrastructure than anticipated. Power outages are regular, the Internet quality is unreliable, and the weather is incredibly hot and humid (read: unproductive). It is a strong and necessary reminder of just how much privilege and luck we have as American technologists, as it has never been more clear and obvious how this work would not be so accessible or possible, especially during the pandemic, born elsewhere. Costs remain low, which is the primary objective in this lifestyle choice, however, it is not easy. To make matters worse, in April, Kam contracted COVID-19, despite very low reported rates of virus transmission in this area.
Contrary to popular belief, living abroad unexpectedly for nearly 2 years during a pandemic is not a vacation. Kam deeply misses and grieves loss of time with family and friends, probably more than most, as her primary love language is quality time. She fled the country in October 2019 heartbroken and depressed over a failed marriage proposal and a failed B2B apprenticeships startup she co-founded (if you made it this far, you earned some tea), expecting to be away for 3–6 months maximum. Almost 2 years later, Kam deeply misses little things like speaking endless NorCal English slang, Trader Joe’s grocery shopping, San Francisco dog parks, and OrangeTheory and SoulCycle — just like all of us do in our own ways.
In order to support herself financially during this unfunded phase with apprenticeship.io, Kam continues to work part time at Pathrise and part time career coaching private clients. You can learn more about her coaching business here.
Kam anticipates returning to California in July 2021.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt