Instead of honing a skill and mastering it over many years, people today want to be spoon-fed everything. Young people expect jobs to come in exchange for a worthless diploma. When that doesn’t happen they are lost.
They are shocked and outraged, especially with student loan debt at an astronomical level. Yet, the reality is that they have nothing of substance to offer and have no room to complain.
This highlights a major flaw in our education system: We aren’t adequately preparing young people to enter the workforce!
Something has to change.
In the past, an effective way to provide gainful employment in a needed and valuable field was through apprenticeships. The art of the apprentice (Save President Trump’s former reality show) has been lost. The only remnants left are trade schools, which still don’t offer the master and student relationship, and internships, which are more like a poorly paid job.
What is an Apprenticeship
According to Robert Greene in his excellent book Mastery:
“…the goal of an apprenticeship is not money, a good position, a title, or a diploma, but rather the transformation of your mind and character—the first transformation on the way to mastery. You enter a career as an outsider. You are naïve and full of misconceptions about this new world. Your head is full of dreams and fantasies about the future. Your knowledge of the world is subjective, based on emotions, insecurities, and limited experience.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has had the pleasure of going through such an experience. Today, people enter an industry and bounce around from one company to the next. They’re not building skills along the way, rather just learning the ins and outs of a new ecosystem. This is why innovation is falling behind as individuals are working within a corporate structure which provides little room for profound growth.
As for what to expect from such an experience, Greene continues:
“Slowly, you will ground yourself in reality, in the objective world represented by the knowledge and skills that make people successful in it. You will learn how to work with others and handle criticism. In the process you will transform yourself from someone who is impatient and scattered into someone who is disciplined and focused, with a mind that can handle complexity. In the end, you will master yourself and all of your weaknesses.”
As you can see apprenticeships not only offer valuable skills, but life lessons as well. Learning to handle criticism, being patient, developing discipline and solving complex problems are all important skills that transfer over to other aspects of life.
Seeking Out an Apprenticeship
I haven’t had the opportunity to be an apprentice. And I don’t think anyone I know has either. I can think of a number of opportunities where I would like to have someone teach me different skills like writing, marketing, or sales.
What skill are you looking to master? Is there someone you look up to who could help you achieve that?
If so, consider seeking their counsel. I don’t have a procedure for seeking out an apprenticeship, but would offer these few words of advice: Don’t explicitly ask to be their apprentice, rather, see if you can help them with something and demonstrate value. Leverage an already existing skill set to helping this person and they may reciprocate. From there it’s possible to allow an organic relationship to be fostered. Of course, the master will have more depth and breadth with a particular set of skills, but he will possess a desire to instill wisdom and help another man grow.
Are you a college student or considering college instead of an apprenticeship? Then you must read my book Grades and Girls.