The concept of apprenticeship isn’t new. In fact, the concept of learning a trade from master craftsmen is quite old (from sushi to stone masonry). What is new is the formal application and position of apprenticeship in entrepreneurship.
To be clear, an apprentice isn’t necessarily an intern or someone who is twenty years old (though s/he could be). They may be forty and looking to change careers or pivot despite the associated challenges. They’re someone with interest in a trade and want to learn the craft from someone with many years of experience (or a knowledge equivalency). They’re willing to work hard, do any task and act as the eyes, ears and hands for their boss-mentor-teacher. They’re passionate about the field, the job and the opportunity to use their skill set to ramp things up. They’re courageous and resilient, see challenges as opportunities and value intellectual curiosity over status quo-based procedures. Titles don’t matter, but the opportunity to learn, create and change the trajectory of their life and others does.
For founders and CEO’s (of companies large and small), it’s about the injection of fresh energy into the company. It’s about working with someone who has a lot to learn (teaching moments) but is highly motivated and excited about the work (something you can’t teach). It’s about having a sounding board that is distinct from the “only positive news” bubble. It’s also about paying things forward.
So how does one go about finding an apprentice? The likely case is that they will find you. An entrepreneurial apprentice will make you take note of them. They may not fit into any job description or have a linear work history, but they will exude motivation, passion and purpose.
Put out an ad. Put out a challenge. Make it known that the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is available. Ask them questions. Why are they passionate about the field? Why do theywant to work with you? What do they want to learn/what can you teach her? What have they noticed about what you’re doing (both good and bad) and how would they change things if they were in your position? What do they believe/know that no one else does?
Challenge yourself. Take on an apprentice. Great people are at the core of any great business, so why not continue that legacy?
Image credit: CC by Loren Javier