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Up for the challenge, Army vet doesn’t hesitate for a career in tech

Bai Lu grew up in China and emigrated to the U.S. for his education where he majored in Supply Chain Management and Finance. He ended up serving active duty with the US Army as a Supply & Operations Specialist for over 4 years while completing a Master of Science in Logistics Management. With plenty of education and experience behind him, Bai started feeling like he wanted a more challenging and technical job to motivate himself. He couldn’t imagine doing the same thing over and over for 10 or 20 years without any change or improvement in his abilities. 

The more he worked in supply chain, the more he realized that IT was the key to success in the industry. Bai felt that his current work and the jobs he had previously held weren’t challenging enough for him. He also knew he loved working with computers and thought that a career in IT could bring him more interesting and challenging work with a better paycheck to boot. 

Without any hesitations, Bai knew a career in tech was the path he wanted to take. His initial sights were set on software engineering, but at the time (and wanting to quickly dive right in) there weren’t any immediate slots available in the Software Development Engineer (SDE) program without having to wait a while and he didn’t want to let this opportunity slip by. So, he chose to work with the Network Development Engineering (NDE) IT Pre-Apprenticeship

After buckling down and dedicating three solid months to the NDE program. Bai is now an Operation Associate Apprentice (System Admin) at Amazon. He is being trained to work on system administration and also networking in order to become a system administrator.

Read on for our full interview with Bai to learn about his quick decisiveness, how he stayed focused, and what he wished he’d done sooner!

What was the biggest challenge for you during the program?
I often felt overwhelmed, especially at the beginning. IT is not an easy field. I had to put a lot of effort into it. I think the biggest challenge is learning how to manage your personal time to study.

Did any of your past work experience, time in the Army, or prior education learnings help you during the program? If so, what? And how? 
They helped me realize how important IT technique is in the real world. Every system I ever worked with used computers related to IT.

What did you enjoy the most during the program?
Learning, asking, and discussing questions with instructors and students. Many of my classmates shared job or training opportunities with each other. They also helped answer some of my questions. I enjoyed making improvements with other classmates.

How did you find balance with everything going on in your life and completing the NDE program?
I tried not to get distracted. Since this was a 3-month training, I kept my focus only on my classes. I didn’t go out for anything social during those 3 months. I felt that was the only way to pass exams and be successful during such a short time.

What would you say to someone debating on joining the NDE IT Pre-Apprenticeship? IT is a good career that you can work with during your whole life. It requires you to put in a lot of effort and continue to always learn. If you don’t like challenges, it’s not for you. However, if you do want to choose a more challenging career path, I highly recommend you take the step to join the pre-apprenticeship. 

If you had one piece of advice for someone newly entering this program, what would it be?
Follow the instructions to learn everything you need to learn and attend class on time every day. Besides the class time, self-study, utilizing personal time is extremely important.

Is there anything that you would have done differently on your path into tech?
I should have done more self-study before the class started. It would have helped me better understand the concepts. And also, I believe I should have joined the program earlier.

What are you doing now?
I am waiting for my new job to start next week and I’m currently learning CompTIA Security+.

How has shifting to a career in tech changed your life?
I haven’t started my new job yet, but I believe my new career will change my life. As I gain more and more experiences in my IT career, I should be able to discover more great opportunities in the future.

Is there anything surprising to you about working in tech that you didn’t expect? If so, what?
I am surprised that more and more IT job opportunities allow us to work remotely. It helps both individuals and the company to save time and money.

What’s in your future? Future goals, etc?
I will never stop learning new IT skills since I decided to treat IT as my lifetime career. My future goal is to become an excellent system administrator.


Wow, Bai, your dedication to push yourself and to continually learn and grow is inspiring. We are confident that your journey in tech will continue to be a success!

To learn more about your options with TLG IT Careers, visit our site or schedule a meeting with one of our Educational Consultant to discuss your unique needs and to determine if an IT apprenticeship or IT pre-apprenticeship is right for you!