ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – A national non-profit organization has made plans to make St. Louis its third location for its "learn by doing" apprenticeship program.
Enstitute co-founders Kane Sarhan and Shaila Ittycheria flew to St. Louis Wednesday to introduce themselves to the community at-large at the Invest Midwest Conference.
Enstitute plans to launch its program in the area later this year.
Based out of New York, the program focuses on providing people, specifically those in the 18-24 range, with one to two year paid, full-time apprenticeships where they can gain skills and experience at high growth start-ups, small businesses or corporations.
With the expansion to St. Louis, the non-profit will have apprenticeship opportunities in business, technology, design, biotech, life sciences and entrepreneurship. The organization also launched a site in Washington D.C.
Cody Beck, of Alton, Ill., was one of 10 apprentices of the pilot program in 2012. After graduating from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, he said that he didn't feel he had adequate experience or skills to pursue his first job.
He entered the Enstitute apprenticeship program where he worked for a sustainable design company doing kickstarter campaigns, social media, organizing retreats and being "the fly on the wall" of places he'd never thought he could be.
He's also the one who pitched St. Louis to Sarhan and Ittycheria. After reviewing resources and seeing projects and growing startups, cofounder Ittycheria said they were blown away by the number of opportunities St. Louis could provide.
She also said that she believes moving to St. Louis will help bridge a gap between the already launched New York program.
The program has already attracted the name of one big local entrepreneur – Build-a-Bear founder Maxine Clark.
"It's really a brilliant idea," she said in a St. Louis Business Journal article. "It can serve as a mini executive training program for startups. It's really a high-quality investment."
Since its inception, Ittycheria said that 90 percent of their pilot program apprentices have moved on to full-time jobs or started their own companies. The other 10 percent returned to school.
For Beck, he said that the program gave him something that he didn't have once he left school – confidence.
"I had the motivation but no ideas," Beck said. "Now I have 1 million ideas, and that is the greatest problem to have. More than anything, the program has been a huge confidence booster for me."
Ittycheria said Enstitute plans to have 20 apprentices this September hitting the ground in St. Louis and have 100 by next year by launching a new crop each quarter.
The application process is currently open for St. Louis apprentice program with a priority deadline of April 21. Ittycheria said that while they target the 18-24 age range, the program is open to all those interested.
Enstitute is also looking for a local manager to work on building relationships with the business community and helping with apprentices in St. Louis.
For more information on the program or to apply, visit the Enstitute website.