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The concept of apprenticeship isn’t new, in fact the concept of learning a trade from a master craftsmen is quite old (from sushi to stone masonry). What is new is it’s formal application and position in entrepreneurship.
To be clear, an apprentice isn’t necessarily an intern or someone who is 20 years old (though s/he could be). S/he may be forty and looking to change careers or pivot despite the associated challenges. S/he is someone who is interested in a trade and wants to learn the craft from someone with many years of experience (or a knowledge equivalency). S/he is willing to work hard, do any task that is given, and act as the eyes, ears, and hands for her boss-mentor-teacher. She’s passionate about the field, the job, and the opportunity to use her innate skill set and those she has acquired to ramp things up. She’s courageous and resilient, challenges are seen as opportunities, and intellectual curiosity takes precedence over status quo-based procedures. Titles don’t matter, the opportunity to learn, create and change the trajectory of her 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 that is being done (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 s/he will find you. An entrepreneurial apprentice will make you take note of her/him. S/he may not fit into any one job description or have a linear work history, but s/he will exude motivation, passion and purpose.
Put out an ad. Put out a challenge. Make the it known that the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is available. Ask her questions. Why is she passionate about the field? Why does she want to work with you? What does she want to learn/what can you teach her? What has she noticed about what you’re doing (both good and bad) and how would she change things if she was in your position? What does she believe/know that no one else does?
Challenge yourself. Take on an apprentice. Great people are at the core of any great business, why not continue that legacy?