The Modern Apprenticeship

At some point in the history of the world, the apprenticeship has become endangered in favor of the internship.

“You get paid in EXPERIENCE!”

The idea was novel at first. Short stints at different businesses allowed you to learn different things and different methods from different people. These internships have also been tied in with getting college credit, so you can obtain real world experience, not just the knowledge in the book.

Somewhere along the way, interns became glorified indentured servants. They have been turned in to errand runners and go-getters. They have gone from lowest level of the totem pole, to the mat you step on when you walk up to said totem pole. That means the world has forgotten its roots.

Used to, you solicited a master of a craft to become their apprentice. You did this because you liked the specific craft. If you were in a big enough place, you also selected the master you admired most. In most cases, this meant you went to live and work with the master. You were a part of their household. You were seen after, fed, and kept reasonably healthy. They made sure you could place your focus on learning the craft. Eventually you became a journeyman, which meant you made a journey from town to town, working with other masters as a more advanced practitioner of your craft. Eventually, you were deemed to be a master at your craft.

Now, internships are about getting coffee, making copies, getting college credit, and trying to figure out what money you’ll live on until the internship is over. When you graduate college, you may not know what you’re doing, and you owe massive amounts of money.

Businesses seem to be more about the money these days than making sure to create sustainability in their industry.

If we can’t return to the ideas of apprenticeships, can we at least pay interns so they have one less thing to worry about while they learn from the journeymen and masters?

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