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Like father, like son: two generations go through same apprenticeship

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Oct 21, 2022

A lot of parents say their child is a chip off the old block, but Andrew Richter really means it after his son, Zachary, started the same apprenticeship at College of Lake County (CLC) just a few months after he completed it himself. The father and son duo are both on paths toward life-changing careers.

Andrew and Zachary talkingIn 2020, Andrew decided to return to school for a degree that would give his career a chance to grow. He was working in the insurance field and wanted to switch to the commercial side. Employers were looking to hire someone with more credentials than career experience, so he chose to pursue a business degree.

He began his education at another community college where he heard about the apprenticeship opportunities with Aon, a multinational financial services firm that sells a range of risk-mitigation products. He soon enrolled at CLC to pursue the apprenticeship and a chance to grow.

“Initially, it’s a step down monetarily for me, but I know I’ll have opportunities to grow with this career,” said Andrew. “With this job, I have 40 hours with benefits and weekends off to spend with my family.”

During the apprenticeship, students are placed in a job with Aon while they are pursuing their education. They are counted as full-time employees, earning a wage and benefits. Instead of working 40 hours a week, their paid time is split between work and class time. Aon also pays for their entire education.

After completion of the program, graduates already have a job. And since they’ve been working with the company, onboarding and training is already complete so they can get right to work.

Andrew graduated in May of 2021, and the following fall, Zachary began his apprenticeship and business degree. If not for the pandemic delaying the start of Zachary’s cohort, the two would have spent one semester in the program together.

Zachary worked at a resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for six years before starting the apprenticeship.

“Hospitality got hit hard during the pandemic,” he said. “I wanted a job I could count on for stability. This opportunity was too good to pass up.”

Zachary had gone to school before, but he had troubles financially and fitting it in with his work schedule. Both problems were solved with the apprenticeship.

Zachary and his dad have always been very close. They have a weekly gaming night, though it sometimes has to be put on hold when Zachary has coursework to do. School comes first!

Andrew and his son work in different departments, so they don’t often interact at work. However, Zachary often hears from people that they know his dad. He was a little embarrassed at first, but he now feels proud.

Likewise, when Andrew hears positive things about his son at work, he feels good about their career choices.

“I’ve always been proud of my son,” he said. “It makes me happy to see he’s putting himself in a position to succeed in life and be with a company that will give him opportunities without having to struggle. Aon gives apprentices better things for themselves. People from all walks of life, people of all ages can do it.”

For Zachary, his dad having gone through the program before him has helped him feel more comfortable.

“My dad has been a great resource for me,” Zachary said. “He had a lot of the same teachers, and he knows what I’m going through.”

For information about apprenticeship opportunities at CLC, contact Apprenticeship Manager Dan Ortego at 847-543-2059 or 

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes in 2019 and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.