Ed Richardson III is part of the Aon apprenticeship program, which means he is both an Aon claims analyst and a Harold Washington College (HWC) student. For Ed, the combination has been life changing.

While he’s originally from Chicago—he grew up in the Chatham neighborhood on the south side and in the south suburbs—Ed attended high school in Spokane, Washington. He returned to Chicago after graduating, but he knew the security job he had here was not the path he wanted to take. His job search ramped up when he learned the plant he was working at was moving out of the country, and he came across an opportunity to attend Harold Washington College and participate in its Aon apprenticeship program. “I was always interested in business, I didn’t need any prior job experience, and that the program would pay for school,” said Ed. “That was pretty much the perfect scenario.”

Ed knew the adjustment back to being a student would be challenging, so he has used his time at Harold Washington to improve writing, public speaking, grammar, math and communications skills. His courses have proved very relevant to what he does at Aon—he’s presented in front of CEOs and writes emails regularly to business leaders and decision makers. Ed also took a property and casualty insurance course at HWC, and that’s given him much needed background and context around his role at the global professional services firm that provides risk, retirement and health consulting.

Ed’s job with Aon is in the reinsurance division, which he described as an area that helps primary insurance carriers manage their exposure to financial loss in the case of a large or catastrophic event (hurricane, earthquake, etc.). He knows that with his job now, he can also focus on school because his employer supports students like him working and getting an education at the same time. “I can focus on learning on the job, acquiring skills and gaining experience, and completing my degree – that’s made all the difference in the world,” said Ed.

Ed has taken advantage of HWC’s career center and tutoring, and he feels challenged and stimulated by his teachers. He is set to graduate with an associate’s degree in December of 2018, and one thing he won’t leave HWC with is regret. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” noted Ed when talking about his experience. After completing at HWC, Ed plans to continue his education in Chicago and stay on at Aon.

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