Cassandra Patterson shows just what people are capable of accomplishing when they possess a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a commitment to life-long learning. An employee at Renaissance Manufacturing Group (RMG) in Waukesha, Cassandra recently completed the 18-month Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Registered Apprenticeship as part of the company’s first graduating class. And as a mother of nine, Cassandra managed to balance her full-time job with her responsibilities as a parent – all while working to advance her career as an IMT Apprentice.
The IMT Apprenticeship received formal recognition from the US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship in November 2014. WRTP/BIG STEP worked closely with leadership from business and labor organizations, including RMG and United Steel Workers (USW), to implement the innovative apprenticeship program. A proud member of USW, Cassandra found out about the apprenticeship opportunity from her local union president who encouraged her to participate. Since starting this Registered Apprenticeship in 2014, Cassandra continued working full-time at RMG – formerly Pure Power – where she has been an employee for more than ten years. In addition, Cassandra received specialized training at RMG from WRTP/BIG STEP and Waukesha County Technical College instructors. To Cassandra, the benefits of the IMT Apprenticeship are far greater than the extra effort required to complete it. “Just the learning keeps me motivated because I love to learn new things. Going through the training opportunities that the IMT Apprenticeship entails motivates me to learn even more,” she says.
Cassandra looks forward to applying the skills she’s learned to different department at RMG and rising in the company. “I do like the company. I’ve been here for quite a few years, so I’m in it for the long haul.” When asked how the IMT Apprenticeship is helping her, Cassandra points to the practical skills she’s learned. “It’s helping me because I’m a team leader on the floor. It’s important for me to have the knowledge of how the machines run so that if something goes wrong I can fix it or work with the maintenance department to help them fix it.”
Others may think it’s impossible to balance a full-time job with the responsibilities of raising nine children. When Cassandra talks about what she’s accomplished as an IMT Apprentice, her bright, positive attitude makes it sound easy. Cassandra is not only an inspiration to her own children. She inspires everyone she meets and works with to reconsider what they think is impossible and to believe in themselves.