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From Tires to TSO; IBM Z Apprentice Graduate trades working on tires for working on mainframes


Jeremy W. was previously working as a manager at a tire shop before starting his IBM Z Apprentice journey in March 2022. After his wife had their first baby, he was ready for a change from working 60-70 hours per week and looking for a long-term, stable career. He admitted he didn’t even own a computer when he first heard about the program. But he took a leap and started the IBM Z Pre-Apprentice program, spending evenings working through the coursework after tucking his daughter into bed.

“It was very discouraging in the beginning because I didn't know any of this stuff,” Jeremy recalled. “But I kept going and really found an interest in it. When I started seeing the badges come in, I felt proud, so I continued.”

Jeremy was hired as a full-time apprentice by American National and developed specialized technical and professional skills on the job. He recently celebrated his graduation with a team of American National, IBM and Franklin Apprenticeships senior leaders and mentors in League City, Texas.

Steve Baugh, Lead Systems Programmer at American National, talked about how Jeremy grabbed every opportunity that was offered as part of the program. “He’s a Subject Matter Expert on a product already and teaching me things about it.”

Keynote speaker, Shelly Meierarend, IBM zSystems Skills Ecosystem Leader, emphasized the importance of what the graduates have achieved, “You are now part of a tradition of very skilled workers who have honed your craft through this wonderful apprenticeship program.”

“Never stop asking questions,” Nick Bastos, AVP IT Infrastructure and Operations at American National said. “That's important. If you're stuck on a problem, don't be afraid to reach out for help. I’m thrilled to congratulate you and encourage you to continue to grow your careers with American National and mentor any new apprentices in the future.”

“Looking back, it tugs at my heartstrings,” Jeremy reflected to the audience, which included his wife and young daughter. “It's like, wow. It's incredible. It's an incredible opportunity that I get to work for American National and be on this team. I really appreciate everything and I'm super blessed to be here.”

IBM Z Apprenticeship Graduate Jeremy W. and Family