Our IT Careers Services Advisor, Chap Williams, joined the TLG IT Careers team a few months ago after completing the Network Development Engineer IT Pre-Apprenticeship program. Chap is a uniquely perfect fit with his down-to-earth and approachable persona and his experience that’s a marriage of HR and tech. Now, he helps our students and alums navigate the world of tech by helping prepare them for interviews and finding companies and roles that are the best fit for our students.
While working with us, he’s continuing to complete his cybersecurity certification so that he can eventually end up fully immersing himself in the tech world.
Watch his full interview (or read the transcript below) to learn more about Chap Williams and his journey.
How did you find out about TLG IT Careers’ Network Development Engineer IT Pre-Apprenticeship ?
All right. So last year, probably mid 2022 I was transitioning, going through a life transition. And so I had previously worked in IT when I joined the Army when I was young, 18. And so I said, you know what? Let me look into IT programs. And so I looked at programs through the VA and they had a list of preferred providers and non-preferred providers. And I looked at every single program, I kid you not. So TLG was the one that I just kept in my research coming across and just I didn’t find anything negative about it. So once I reached out, everyone was responsive that I spoke to, which was important for me, and it made my decision easy.
What were you doing before joining the program?
I like to tell everyone that I was a full time dad and a part time HR director for a small nonprofit. That’s kind of how I retired from the Army. I started my family when I retired. And so that was, you know, pretty much my focus. I do have a background in HR recruiting, so I was using that. Again, like I said, and a nonprofit and just in a kind of giving back way.
What did you do in the Army?
So I started off as an IT specialist, and then I converted over to working in HR, So I was a personnel specialist, moved up to a sergeant, and then I became a recruiter. And so I finished my time as a recruiter.
What led you to jump into tech?
I had previously worked in it for my first job in the military, in the Army. But as a kid, I was always tinkering with computers. And so I’m 40 years old. So I remember when, yeah, computers weren’t as accessible as they are now. I would be. I was the teenager that would take broken computers and fix them and get them to work so that I could tinker with them even more.
So again, going through kind of a transitional period. It just made sense to go back to the first thing that I learned, which was technology.
Did you know which direction you wanted to go in?
Yes, I knew I did not want to be a software engineer. Coding is…is good. It has a place. I understand it a lot better now than before I joined the program, but I just knew that again, being that I worked in a previous role. Networking is what I did prior.
Did you have any doubts or hesitations before joining the program? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
With any new thing, there’s a little bit of anxiety or fear, maybe, but I haven’t made it this far, like without having to face my fears. And though again, talking to everyone from the beginning of the process, it made me feel really comfortable. And then once I met the first instructor, Cliff, I just knew that I would be okay. I’ll make it.
What did you enjoy most about the program?
Outside of my classmates, my cohort mates, all of us again working towards a similar goals. Probably just the instructors. All of the instructors were very knowledgeable, very approachable, and always willing to help. If we needed additional help. And it was a great experience overall, and it’s why I’m working here.
What was the biggest challenge that you faced during the program?
Oh, the biggest challenge so, with about five weeks remaining in the program, I was contacted by veteran of affairs and they said that I was mistakenly approved for the program that allowed me the opportunity to do the NDE program and therefore I would be disenrolled and I could appeal it again testament to TLG. Once they were aware of what was going on, they were they were helpful, to say the least.
Fortunately for me, the VA, I guess they recanted. So they basically said, You know what? We messed up. We admit we messed it up, but we’re not going to penalize you and, you know, continue the program and be successful. So, yeah, that was my biggest challenge.
What would you say to someone that is debating on joining the NDE IT Pre-Apprenticeship?
I think someone needs to seriously ask themselves what? What is their goal? What is your goal? Of either doing the NDE program or the SDE program. And so for me, I can only speak for me, my goal is to work in cybersecurity. So I knew that the only way that could happen is having a strong foundational understanding of networking, even some cloud and Linux as well.
So and the NDE program was perfect for me. So the biggest, I guess to answer that question, I would say someone would need to just know what is your why? And it has to be more than the potential to make money.
Why should someone choose TLG IT Careers instead of another program?
The staff, the staff of the organization is what makes TLG stand above anyone else. For someone to go through the program, I reached out to every school that interested me. I was well already in the process of going in TLG’s program when one of the I contacted another program the same day they finally contacted me. It was weeks and weeks later.
So again, is that a testament to the staff, the response… responsiveness. And I think just going through the program, the support of my own department, career services, that makes a big difference because had I not been in a role TLG would still be working with me to, you know, support me in my efforts. So you don’t find that too often.
If you had one piece of advice for someone newly entering the program to maximize their experience and career growth, what would it be?
Ask questions and utilize self-study. I think one of the biggest things to understand on the Apprentice and a Pre-Apprenticeship is the need to continue to hone your skills even when you’re away from the classroom. So whether that’s just looking over notes or actually doing some hands on home labs or something while just always continuing to just hone those skills.
What did your job search look like?
So my job search was a little different from, I think most Pre-Apprentices reason being, again, I have a desire to work in cybersecurity. So I knew that after the program that I would be pursuing my security plus certification. And so that’s what I prioritized before jumping right into the job search. Now, in the course of me obtaining my security plus certification, I found an opportunity that aligned with that.
And so that’s exactly what I was pursuing before taking this role (at TLG Learning Career Services Department).
Is there anything that you would have done differently on your path into tech?
I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I think everything led up to now and I needed everything. The way that it happened. It’s easy to say, Well, I worked in tech before. I could have never left, but I needed to experience things and hone other skills in other areas. So that actually helped me and it helped me a lot in the program in terms of just relating better with my classmates in terms of receiving instruction. So I wouldn’t change a thing.
Why did you decide to join the TLG Learning Team again?
Again, going through the program and experiencing the challenge of being told that I shouldn’t be in the program, that was a blow. And so TLG, you know, bigger than just myself. I understand that, you know, TLG is taking a chance by allowing me in a program, and I want to make sure that, you know, they’re not negatively affected by this mistake that’s out of my control.
But the way that everyone was about it and just real helpful and just real supportive, that resonated with me. So when the opportunity came that I could potentially be a fit for a role with TLG, I definitely had to think about it and prioritize that and more so to be in the role that I am in in terms of helping other Pre-Apprentices kinda navigate the job search and everything that comes with going through the program.
I was sold, so who better than someone to go through it themselves. That’s kind of how I felt.
What do you do for TLG Learning?
Okay, so I am the career services advisor for TLG Learning and myself and my esteemed coworker, I always have to show some love to Karise. We make up the career services team, so we work with our students and alumni in terms of job interview preparation, job searching, resumes, behavioral interviews, everything that can make them successful to land an interview.
As I speak to my students and alumni all the time, I can’t go into interview with them, but my goal is to have them equipped and ready to to be their best selves and presenting themselves in the best way possible and potentially land their first role.
What plans do you have for your future?
Because of how I look at things and I look at life. So right now, I’m enjoying now. And so my goal is to be the best career services provider I can be for TLG to help as many of our students and alumni find fulfilling roles. And as I mentioned earlier, knowing what the why is and it has to be more than just the dollar amount because, again, when you’re happy in a role, you bring your your best to that role.
And so that’s that’s really it. I just want to help as many of our students and alumni be as successful as possible.
Chap, we are so grateful to be a part of your journey and honored that you have chosen to work with us at TLG Learning.
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!