Apprenticeship Spotlight: May 2020
MEET ABDOUL KABORE
Hometown: Conway, AR
MY BACK STORY
I’m from West Africa originally. My country name is Burkina Faso, which is surrounded by the countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, Togo, Benin, and Mali. I have three siblings—an older brother, a younger brother, and a younger sister. My father is an economist who builds big markets for people to go and shop. Over there, the markets are different, not like Walmart here. In Africa, it’s outside.
MY EDUCATION (Part 1)
In 2008, I graduated from the Higher Institute of Electrical Engineering in Burkina Faso with an Associate Degree in Computer Networking and Telecommunications. Over there, that’s like three years of university training.
MY WORK LIFE (Part 1)
In Burkina Faso, I worked for the leading telecommunications company, Onatel. I provided support to end users for issues with computers, applications, systems, and hardware. I also monitored the performance of the company’s desktop infrastructure.
I worked at Onatel maybe two months, and then I started trying to find something else to do.
MY EDUCATION (Parts 2 & 3)
I talked to my dad about it, and he asked me what I had in mind. I said I wanted to go to the United States and continue with my schooling. He asked me to find a school, and from there we could start planning everything.
I went to the Internet and looked everywhere. I found schools in Pennsylvania, in Colorado, in Arkansas and other places. My goal was to find a nice school where I could afford the tuition and also that had a lifestyle that I liked. I put my application in for six different schools.
I had never been to the United States before, and I was so happy when I saw Conway for the first time—it is a beautiful city, not too big, and very friendly. But in my country, we speak French. In English, I couldn’t even speak a really good sentence. When I was trying to ask people something, they would talk really fast to me. I thought they were singing. I was like, man, I cannot understand it.
But there were some people here from Africa, especially Nigeria. So they were speaking French, and I also made friends with some people from Kazakhstan. Those people were my first friends in the United States.
There was also a boy from Arkansas in the same dorm as me at UCA. His name was Rob and he was a really nice guy. Sometimes when somebody called me on the phone and I could not understand that person, I gave the phone to Rob so he could translate to me. He would tell me slowly, so I could understand better.
In America, I found that not all of my credit hours from Burkina Faso would transfer. The University of Central Arkansas in Conway wouldn’t take any of my credit hours. Arkansas State University-Beebe would take only about 15 of my credit hours. I would have to do almost everything over.
It was a hard time for me, because after I came here, I was grown up. My dad couldn’t keep paying for my school. I was supposed to take over everything. And at that time, I was an international student, so I had to pay $7,000 every year, and that wasn’t easy for me to do. So I had to work and then go back to school, and work and go back to school, like that.
I came to the U.S. in 2009 and received my Associate Degree in Applied Science, Computer Systems-Technology from ASU-Beebe in May of 2016. I received my Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems from UCA in December 2019.
MY WORK LIFE (Parts 2, 3, & 4)
First, where was I working? A cafeteria, the UCA cafeteria. And also, at the end of 2009, I started working with Staff Logic. I was doing two jobs at that time, and I was going to school. I was also learning English, so I also spent some time taking an English program.
I worked for eight years (2009-2017) at Staff Logic, which eventually became Holman Distribution. I was a Supervisor, coaching and coordinating machine operators across several platforms. I organized workflow and ensured that employees understood their duties.
In 2017 I joined Kimberly Clark as a Process Operator, which means I maintained accurate and complete production, waste, delay, and quality reports. I was trying to find something at Kimberly Clark so I could grow, but things didn’t go as I was planning. Kimberly Clark is everywhere, and I applied for positions many times, more than 20 times. But they never interviewed me about other positions.
MY TURNAROUND MOMENT
ACDS came to my school, at UCA, and told us about the data analytics apprenticeship program. I signed up, and they connected me with DXC, a really big company. I didn’t know what to expect, because I had never worked in those kinds of positions before. But ACDS showed us apprentices the path, the way.
They gave us a soft-skills class—how to approach people, how to talk to people. When I say people, I mean your colleagues when you’ve got a project together. How to interact, how to improve yourself, how to be a team player. ACDS showed us those kinds of skills. Learning that, I became more confident.
On the technical skills, they started from the basics and then showed us the way to work in DXC, especially in the C/Unix languages.
MY WORK LIFE (Part 5)
We graduated from the apprenticeship classes in April, and now I’m a C/Unix Developer for DXC. I have the career I wanted.