By: Tom Goulding

UCR University Extension’s apprenticeship program gives more to students than just hands-on learning and work experience in their chosen field — it works with students to align their skills and interests to set them up for a long-term career. Unlike internships, our apprenticeship program offers paid positions that can lead to full-time employment.

In fact, apprenticeships are often considered the gold standard of work-based learning. Each year, over 800K apprentices work in the fields of clean energy, education, cybersecurity, engineering, healthcare and transportation. To bring a spotlight to our apprenticeship opportunities, we’re celebrating National Apprenticeship Week from November 14-20.

A great example of this success is Project Management student Erick Sarceno, who shared what this program has done for him and his life goals.

Erick always intended to attend UCR. However, due to some unexpected circumstances, he ended up completing his bachelor’s degree at California State University, San Bernardino in Business Management. However, he felt he needed more firsthand experience and knowledge to pursue his dream of starting his own construction company. As he looked for different opportunities, he came across an advertisement for UCR University Extension and our apprenticeship program. He knew it was the opportunity he’d been looking for.

After reaching out to our apprenticeship team and giving it deep thought, Erick decided to pursue an apprenticeship in project management. To highlight National Apprenticeship Week, we talked with him about his experiences.

“UCR University Extension has a project management professional certificate program and I became really interested in it,” Erick says. “It’s been really great here. I felt like the opportunity that UCR University Extension was offering me, was something I couldn’t really let go of. They’re giving me the chance to obtain a certificate and help me gain experience I want and need. It was something I wanted to do for myself.”

As the oldest of three kids with working parents, Erick is very motivated to provide his family with a better life. His eventual goal is to be an entrepreneur and build off of the experience he has gained from the project management certificate program at UCR University Extension. A major motivation that drives him through this apprenticeship is his goal to build a construction business and help his parents retire.

“I grew up knowing the construction industry because of my dad,” Erick explains. “Construction is something I’ve always been interested in and has led me to my goal of wanting to have my own construction business so I can take care of my parents and let them eventually retire. I don’t want him lifting a bucket of cement at 60.”

Six months into the 12-month project management program, Erick has loved the environment that UCR University Extension has helped him access. His apprenticeship is with Lafayette Engineering, where he applies everything learned in our classrooms into a professional environment.

Lafayette Engineering, Inc. is an electrical controls company that designs and finds industry-leading solutions to industrial conveyor systems. As a Project Manager apprentice, Erick is able to witness and participate in the engineering work processes of the conveyor systems, which include high-speed sortation.

“It’s been really great for me in this apprenticeship, being able to work and learn more about it as things go along,” Erick states. “I’m the type of person that wants to start from nothing and see it be built out. I love seeing 200 feet of conveyor with steelworks and everything. Seeing it all come together is sensational. I’ve been here the whole time, spoken with people… I feel like I’ve helped the project move.”

Erick credits his experiences in the classroom with his newfound project management skill set. The top skills he’s acquired with us include communication, prioritization and organizational skills. The apprenticeship has provided him with even more applicable skills.

While overseeing several job sites, Erick has his own checklist and a specific organizational process he needs to adhere to. He coordinates with other project managers and makes sure to match their goals and priorities while protecting Lafayette’s interests. On top of that, he’s juggling deadlines to ensure that his own goals are met.

“I’m able to adapt to certain changes,” he elaborates. “As you get into it, you can see 75 different things, but you become accustomed to it.”

All the work he’s doing now is helping to build a better future for himself. With his apprenticeship at Lafayette Engineering, Erick can challenge himself while taking steps — both metaphorically and literally — to reach his future goals.

UCR University Extension offers a variety of apprenticeship programs designed to meet the unique needs and passions of students. These programs empower students like Erick and open doors to actual projects and work for regional employers. To highlight these opportunities, UCR University Extension is celebrating our student apprentices and programs with National Apprenticeship Week.

UCR University Extension apprenticeship student Erick Sarceno Erick Sarceno
Apprenticeship Student
Project Management
UCR University Extension