Students of colour and young professionals looking to level up in their careers should consider an apprenticeship. Between 2019 and 2020, there were an estimated 700,000 apprentices with more than 140,000 successful outcomes in England. Colt Technology Services Colocation Analyst, Alan Mensah, is part of that group.
Colt strives to transform the way the world works through the power of connectivity. The Colt IQ Network connects 1000+ data centres across Europe, Asia and North America’s largest business hubs, with over 29,000 on net buildings and growing.
Mensah oversees the operational capacity of the business to ensure customer satisfaction, with responsibilities including managing capacity in third-party data centres and ordering additional space and power.
Apprenticeship training is a proven tactic for Black professionals’ career advancement
Apprenticeships combine hands-on training with job education in a particular field. Training programs provide opportunities to gain valuable professional experience, transferable skills, and a network. It also allows participants to learn while they earn with possible accreditations that can later be used to land a full-time job.
Apprenticeships further diversity and inclusion
Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic groups represented about 13 percent of participants in 2019-2020. This disproportionate representation highlights a gap that apprenticeships can fill.
But, contrary to belief, apprenticeships are mutually beneficial. Statistically, a more diverse labour force bolsters positive financial outcomes across industries – businesses that increase diversity by a mere one percent see a nine percent increase in sales.
If you’re considering a similar route as Mensah, BYP has the scoop. We sat down with him to discuss his experiences in the technology field, overcoming imposter syndrome, and how his positive attitude means he always does his best work.
BYP: What advice do you have for those who have taken non-traditional paths to their careers?
Mensah: If you know what you want to get into, think of the primary skill or knowledge base required for the role. Would it be the subject matter regarding that field or the actual skills and experience going forward? If it’s skills and experience, an apprenticeship may be a good option. Depending on the knowledge required, would you be able to learn that on your own, online or on a course? Once you’re in, push yourself, ask for opportunities and try to gain as much experience as possible.
BYP: Did you ever feel like you were dealing with imposter syndrome? If so, what advice would you give other Black professionals who may share those same feelings?
Mensah: Initially, yes. As an apprentice, I was pretty young compared to the rest of my team, and they weren’t like me. Be yourself – if you’ve been employed there, they see qualities in you that they want. Trust your ability – you worked hard to get the job and succeeded. Don’t forget that! You’re there to make a difference in the team. You’re there to help the team achieve its goals, so push yourself.
BYP: What else do you do to elevate your status and promote diversity across your business?
Mensah: We have a committee called YOUnited, which aims to drive an inclusive culture. I’m the treasurer of that committee, and it’s great to be part of something that seeks to drive change within the organisation. The group works on raising awareness of different issues regarding race, cultural backgrounds, faith, and ethnicities. We look at partnerships with other companies and charities that help further drive representation as well.
BYP: How do you celebrate your accomplishments?
Mensah: Earlier in my career, I didn’t feel like I did so well and would feel down about any setbacks, but it’s a false perception. Something as simple as creating a list of your accomplishments works wonders. This can go a long way to helping with your mindset, and it means you have something to look back on when you need reminding. Celebrating work you’ve done well is important because it helps you enjoy what you do.
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