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We recently had a chance to catch up with Waukee APEX Alumna, Abbi Janes, and we were excited to hear about the opportunities that she has experienced since leaving our program. Continue reading to find out more about the direction that Abbi’s life has taken since graduating from Waukee High School in 2019. 

1.) What Waukee APEX course or courses did you take, and what were some of the experiences that you had in those courses?

During my high school career at Waukee, I was lucky enough to take two APEX courses: Developing Web-Based Technologies and Business Startup. In Developing Web-Based Technologies, I worked with John Deere on a mock website in order to gain necessary technical skills. Once completing the mock website, I worked with a fellow student associate to build an entire website for a non-profit organization called Train to Inspire. It was very useful to take the skills that I had learned building the mock website and apply them to help a non-profit organization. During my time in Business Startup, I learned entrepreneurial skills. In addition to all of the projects I worked on, I learned valuable skills such as handshakes, resume building, interviewing, and writing professional emails. 

2.) What other experiences did you have while in the Waukee APEX program that contributed to your growth as an aspiring professional? 

I often had the privilege of hosting tours of the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center. Mainly, I toured prospective business partners and clients, but I also had the opportunity to host the National Governor’s Association meeting held here at the WILC. I often spoke about my time at APEX to guests and fellow students. I also had the privilege of meeting with Governor Kim Reynolds, and after speaking with her was honored to be showcased in one of her speeches about work-based learning programs in Iowa.

3.) Can you explain the path that you have taken after high school? 

After my graduation from Waukee, I enrolled at DMACC. I had accumulated so many college credits during my time in high school that I entered DMACC as a sophomore, and stayed for one year before completing my associates degree and transferring to Iowa State University. Once transferring to Iowa State, I declared a Communication Studies major, which really helped open up some new and exciting opportunities. 

In the summer between my first year at Iowa State and my senior year, I was looking for a job when I stumbled across a posting for Apple Campus Leader at Iowa State. I applied, and less than a week later I was offered the position! Through this position, I worked directly with Apple to help create events and initiatives to grow Apple’s image on Iowa State’s campus. This included hosting workshops to talk about the capabilities of Apple products as well as  working alongside the campus store to help sell devices to students and staff of Iowa State. 

In December of 2021, I was promoted to Senior Campus Leader, taking on more of the responsibilities of the Campus Leader Program, including managing a team of Campus Leaders at different colleges in the Midwest and Texas. I also got to showcase my interviewing skills I learned while at APEX, but I now became the interviewer as I helped with recruiting efforts for the new cohort of Campus Leaders. 

Currently I am working with the U.S. Sales and Enablement Team, helping with communication efforts for the educational side of Apple. I work very closely with higher level management to help spread educational messaging to the Apple Education team. 

4.) Do you think that the soft skills, or professional skills, learned in APEX helped you be successful beyond high school? 

I know that I would not be in this position if it weren’t for the amazing skills I learned during my time in APEX. APEX courses expose student associates to so many technical skills while also teaching the skills needed to dive into project work and different situations without a whole lot of background and/or experience. Personally, I learned a lot about problem solving, time management, and organization, which have all been useful skills in the professional world.  

6.) Do you have any advice for future APEX associates? 

I am truly grateful to the Waukee APEX program for all that I learned, and for all of the opportunities that the program prepared me for. If I were to offer one piece of advice to future APEX associates I would encourage them to take every piece of advice given from the instructors – it will take you far. I would also say as a transfer student from a community college, you do not have to do college the “traditional” way, do whatever feels right to you. Make every moment your own!