Opportunity for tribal members through program

Getting a job is hard enough. But imagine a job that provides benefits, good pay, on-the-job training and a mentor. Now, that seems unattainable to most people. However, the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Member Apprentice Program provides just that to tribal members.

According to the outlines of the program, the program has placed tribal members in high-level management positions as well as provided both low and top-level management work experience.

The program does not guarantee job placement upon completion of the curriculum but sometimes the apprentice does fill the position.

For example, Cheryl Frost, records manager, is someone who has completed the program and is now in the management position she apprenticed for.

“I was working in records and found out about the program from the clerks manager that was leaving and suggested I apply, so I did,” Frost said.

Frost is now the current records manager in the Tribal Information Services Department.

The apprenticeship also provides a curriculum the mentor and the apprentice agree on. The curriculum is often broken down in to monthly goals that the apprentice should try to meet.

Along with the curriculum, apprentices are also required to meet with an apprentice committee every three-months to document progress of both the mentor and apprentice.

“I like that I got to meet with the committee it keeps you and your mentor on track,” Trennie Collins, former Woodyard secretary apprentice, said.

Another perk the apprenticeship provides is on-the-job training. Mentor and apprentice interact daily, working on projects and attending meetings together, Cassandra Naranjo, current apprentice for the Native American Graves Protection and Repartriation Act (NAGPRA) position said.

“I get to sit in consultation meetings and learn with work groups and learn about reburials … the shadowing helps with the preparation of taking over the position,” Naranjo said.  “It would be way harder and way over my head … I would probably be lost and much more intimidated if I didn’t do the apprentice program.”

Not only is their boss a mentor, the apprentice is also mentored by other employees within their work environment, Frost said.

“You only get out of it what you put into it,” she said. “You have to watch everyone around you and learn as much as you can about everyone’s position … take advantage of coaching and stay open-minded.”

In addition to on-the-job training some apprentices get to travel around the country to receive professional training, Naranjo said.

“My first day as an apprentice, I traveled to a training to learn about NAGPRA,” Naranjo said.

There are currently seven apprentices working for the tribe and four-apprentice openings on the tribal website. Past apprentice, Frost, encourages the membership to participate in the program.

“Each individual has their own personal life experiences and that’s what will make them an asset for the tribe … participating in the apprenticeship program gives you [tribal members] the opportunity to be apart of your tribal government,” she said.

Collins, who was not offered a job at the end of the apprenticeship, agrees with Frost, the membership should be interested in the program, Collins said.

“It gives people the opportunity they need … if you get the job or not you’re able to carry that experience with you,” she said.



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