Apex Student Spotlight: Jamil Williams
This month, we sat down with Jamil Williams, a trade school graduate of the Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Appliance/Controls program at Apex Technical School. Jamil told us what he’s been up to since graduating from the program, what he liked about Apex, how he stayed motivated, what HVAC classes were his favorite, and much more.
Keep reading to learn about Jamil’s story—because his answers might surprise you!
Q&A with an Apex Graduate
Apex Technical: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Jamil Williams: My name is Jamil Williams. I’m from Harlem, New York. I’m an Apex graduate, and I’m back taking AC Refrigeration refresher courses.
AT: Why did you decide to enroll in trade school?
JW: I was looking for a career change. I was working at sweetgreen. I felt I could do better than making salads, and I would overhear customers talking about their careers. That motivated me to do something different. I knew I could do better.
AT: How did you juggle other responsibilities and Apex’s HVAC training program at the same time?
JW: I took HVAC courses in the day program. That worked well for me, because it gave me time to go home to do what I had to do at home. It allowed me to be closer to my family.
AT: Other than the option for day or evening classes, what else helped you choose Apex?
JW: I found out about Apex from my counselor in high school. She mentioned Apex, and I remembered seeing the transit ads, and I knew it was a well-known school. I also have a thing for working with my hands—Lego, origami, classes on survival, basketball, robotics. Being hands-on always drew my attention.
AT: Sounds like trade school was the right fit!
JW: Yeah, I was motivated to go to trade school because, from my high school experience, I wanted to focus on one thing. In college you can take an HVAC program, but you would also have to take literature classes and do liberal arts. For me, that would be too much and a distraction. My family also does not have the money for college. My sister is enrolled in college, and she’s taken on a lot of debt.
AT: How were you able to focus on your goals?
JW: Apex set me up for success. It gave me multiple skills that I can use forever. The HVAC program kept me on track and focused. I learned how to be more responsible. For example, my instructors told me, “You can’t be late. It’s like a job.” Little things like that made a big impact and kept me accountable for my actions. Now I’m back for refresher classes, and it’s good practice—it’s getting me ready to go into the field. It makes me confident.
AT: What was your favorite class?
JW: Advanced Commercial Refrigeration/Air Conditioning. We had more systems in the class, package units, split units, compressors. The first time I got to fix an open hermetic compressor was in that class! You get to open it and see the mechanics of it. I learned how to wire four-way valves in a split unit system and how to use them correctly.
AT: What was the biggest challenge you overcame in your program?
JW: My biggest challenge was the passing the Section 608 Technician exam to earn my EPA certification. I initially only passed type 1 and type 2. I overcame this by studying the section I failed and taking a practice test at school and at home. My biggest achievement is my EPA universal. I found out through email about my test results. I saw the email early in the morning, I hopped out of bed, and screamed so loud—I was really hyped! My next priority was to focus on my fire guard. I’m now preparing for that.
AT: Did you feel supported by Apex?
JW: I felt supported by Apex because I got a lot of tutoring, and people took interest in helping me. Staying after school was always available. Even if it wasn’t my teacher, another teacher would help. Apex has different departments and student services for different needs—like grades or attendance. There’s a whole support system here.
AT: What would you tell someone who is thinking about enrolling?
JW: The admissions process helped me choose my trade. Once the confusion was out of the way, Apex helped me complete the paperwork. Plus, the school helps balance course work and shop time. It’s already laid out for you.
AT: How do you feel now that you’re an Apex graduate?
JW: My experience at Apex was unexpectedly fast. It was a good experience because it trained me and motivated me to become a better man. I learned I could accomplish things. There were some ups and downs, but overall it was a good experience.
AT: Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?
JW: Before learning a trade, I was surrounded by a bad environment. But I set a standard for myself. I decided to walk the motivation. I almost became the motivation. This mindset introduced me to some of the other students’ stories and the paths they took to become motivated. I surrounded myself with people who had the same mindset and wanted to achieve the same goals. I knew I was on the right track because they were on the right track.
Learn More About Hands-On Training
If Jamil’s story inspired you, we encourage you to check out all the programs that Apex offers! Have questions? Contact us and we’ll help answer your questions, share program information, schedule you for a campus tour, and discuss your financial aid eligibility. Classes are starting soon!
*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.
Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.