Career Hack: Why Finding a Supportive Team Matters

December 1, 2022

I feel that my input has been valued, and once I started to realize that value, I felt like I was making a difference.

Steven H.

When Steven H. was looking to jump-start his career in college, he found that Caterpillar offered him the work culture he needed to be successful. “I chose Caterpillar because they offered me an opportunity to learn in my desired field while still going to school – an opportunity I didn’t find anywhere else.” As a Secure Software Apprentice, Steven says he not only found a promising career path, but also a supportive team that helps him grow. 

Steven has been supported in his own development, but he’s also been trusted with helping improve development opportunities for other apprentices. Caterpillar’s cybersecurity apprentices do real-world work every day, and as a result, continually look for opportunities to better prepare them for the work they do. “As I was getting more involved with our cloud teams, I felt like I needed more training to be successful. I was encouraged to reach out to other Caterpillar employees, as well as vendor employees, to help identify new learning paths for myself and other apprentices. Everyone was incredibly supportive.” Now, Steven is charting a path for his own learning while also building a road that the apprentices who follow him will walk.

Like anyone new to their role, Steven felt at first that he wouldn’t be able to measure up to his peers. However, after being entrusted with a leading role in a new project, he suddenly found himself as the person everyone else came to with questions. This helped him “find his voice,” and he became a key decision maker for this important cybersecurity initiative. “I was really surprised by the positive community that Caterpillar builds with its employees. I just think you have to be willing to learn and voice your perspective,” he said. 

AJ Salmon, a colleague of Steven’s in Caterpillar’s cybersecurity division, participated in the same Apprentice Program with Caterpillar. After being offered a full-time position following graduation, AJ’s apprentice experience enabled him to immediately take on important work on Caterpillar’s Cyber Threat Intelligence team. AJ echoes the teamwork and opportunities available through this career path, expressing “the culture of growth and development here is hard to beat.” 

For Steven, this development culture allowed him to jump-start his career years before it would have started otherwise. “Because Caterpillar invested in me early, I’m now graduating my first two years of college with a good job and opportunity to continue growing from there.” Steven feels that the best advice for someone considering a career at Caterpillar is to not be afraid to try something new. “When I applied for the program, I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t even think I would get hired; two years later, I’m thankful that I took the leap.”

Thanks to supportive teams and a growth mindset, both Steven and AJ are successfully doing the work that matters. Now in his final semester, Steven is working with Caterpillar’s cloud adoption team to support security efforts in cloud environments, which helps Caterpillar ensure the trustworthiness and quality of our customer platforms. In his full-time role, AJ serves as an important voice in Caterpillar’s cybersecurity initiatives by routinely providing cyber threat intelligence briefings to Caterpillar leaders, employees and dealers – work which ensures decision-makers have the latest information on the cyber threat landscape. 

"I've already had experiences in my career that colleagues tell me took them years to gain. For example, I regularly interact with Caterpillar dealer IT teams and share actionable intelligence," remarks AJ. He goes on to say, "That's why I enjoy returning to my community college to encourage more students to join the apprentice program."

AJ and Steven attribute their career success, to date, to the apprenticeship program. By providing them with unique opportunities to develop their technical and business abilities, and surrounding them with teammates that help each other thrive, they have launched their career high. They are proud of their accomplishments and are excited about their futures at Caterpillar.

Steven and AJ