Do you remember your first day of grown up life? You went to your big boy/big girl job at 8am dressed in a grown up outfit from Kohl’s or JC Penny. You weren’t even sure what you were going to be doing and your biggest concern was when is lunch and where do I eat it. You’re trying to figure out how you suckered these people into thinking you were mature enough to handle this job.
Ignorance at its best.
But it was fun. You learned, you worked your ass off, and you made a little money along the way. Now, work is just that thing that takes up most of your day. You got your attire in line, lunch is routine AF, your coworkers are tolerable, and you have plenty of confidence.
Maybe you have a degree in communications or business management or English literature and now you’re doing something completely unrelated. I think most of us would agree that the education system is iffy at best. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling high school didn’t prepare me at all for what college required and most of us didn’t feel ready at all for the real world on our first day after college. But we were never supposed to, that’s the point. You learn along the way. And there used to be a system to support this but it has sort of fell off the map.
I think it’s time for apprenticeship to make a resurgence. Lousy employers don’t bother to cultivate talent and good employers face a double edge sword. They can spend time and resources on talent that may not pan out or they can find good talent but lose them to another company because millennials are entitled and want to get the big payday earlier than they deserve. So you wind up with companies wanting young employees to be capable enough to really shine, but not necessarily wanting to give them enough credit to boost their resume enough so that they’ll leave.
This doesn’t impact everyone, obviously. Some people will just stand out and grow quickly. Doctors and lawyers have apprenticeships built in to their education in a way. Law enforcement, military careers, and technical jobs have systems in place. I’m talking about the 8 to 5ers. The people who get the generic “oh, that’s interesting” when asked what it is that they do. Most of us have no need for 70% of the stuff we learned in college. We need to be trained for a few years on how to navigate the corporate structure. We need to know what specific acronyms actually means to our company. We need to know exactly who to go to when certain issues arise and the fastest way to resolve them. There may be employees more qualified than yourself, but I encourage you to try and take on a new employee as an apprentice. Maybe they’re only a couple years younger than you, no big deal. Even if you can only teach them a few things it will do wonders and will make you look good.
I spend a lot of time with the guy who took over my position when I moved departments and my former boss appreciates the shit out of it. I also really enjoyed it. Teaching is a great way to figure out what you really do know and what you may need to spend some more time on. It cost me some of my own time, but I gained the respect of a upper manager and a younger employee. No employer wants to deal with the struggles of a new, young employee. They want the finished product. So help them get there sooner because most people don’t have the time or desire. You should. And there is a chance that down the road you get into a position of power and can bring up some employees. This allows you to create a connection with someone that might someday be a subordinate. If you’re the one that trained them then hopefully you can trust the work. If you can’t, then you needed a better mentor when you were coming up.