Apprenticeships are an old concept. For years, it was common for young children to learn a trade by working for free (or very little pay) as they learned from a master of a trade. Blacksmiths, carpenters, and sailors are several examples of jobs that were built through apprenticeship.
The concept is phenomenal. Become a master of something while creating value for the individual or business who is teaching you.
Today, apprenticeship is viewed as a great avenue for building skill in blue-collar jobs. But the idea can (and should) easily be expanded to the world of technology!
So what exactly is a Tech Apprenticeship?
In a tech apprenticeship, a startup agrees to pay an entry-level employee a certain amount in exchange for guidance and the chance to learn by completing projects. Apprentices have the advantage of creating real market value while building priceless skills that they can take anywhere in their careers.
Who should complete a tech apprenticeship?
You’d love a tech apprenticeship if you:
- Are interested in sales
- Are interested in marketing
- Have some experience coding and would like to learn more
- Want to build a business someday
- Want to study business
- Love spreadsheets and data
- Don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do for your career
- Want a fast-paced learning environment with mentors and a challenge
If you fit any of these categories, you would be a great candidate for completing an apprenticeship.
But what if…
“Do I have to learn to code first?”
Startups aren’t just for coders. Every tech company needs a marketing and sales team, someone to make sure the business runs smoothly, write blog posts, design graphics, and the list goes on and on.
Even if you’re at an entry-level role in a tech company without any coding knowledge, you can impact the company in numerous ways! It’s also the prime place to teach yourself a skill like coding because there are always REAL projects that you can complete for the company to show your progress!
“But most companies require degrees.”
Tech startups are on the leading edge of realizing that the degree is not a strong signal. Companies like Google and IBM have dropped their degree requirements within the last 5 years.
Learn how to show your skills. All employers want is to know you can create more value than you cost. If you prove that, they’ll hire you. Here’s how to do that.
“What if I’m not cut out for a tech apprenticeship?”
Do you have motivation? Are you excited about learning? Does the thought of a challenge make you set your jaw and get to work? Are you willing to stick to a problem until you solve it? Do you have a base level of communication and people skills?
Then you’re qualified. What companies are looking for are motivated learners that will grow quickly and embrace the company vision. You don’t need any traditional qualifications- just grit, determination, and a lot of hustle.
Why should anyone consider a tech apprenticeship?
1. “Software is eating the world.” –Breaking Smart
Technology is advancing faster than ever before.
Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build-out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.
At that rate, anything that takes you 4 years to learn will be virtually obsolete before you graduate.
Let that sink in.
Tech startups, on the other hand, are on the front lines of the information advancement. There’s no reason to spend 4 years of your life and thousands of dollars on information when you can experience it while you work and learn!
2. College is deteriorating.
While many people are realizing that college is not as useful as it once was, others still resort to it as the “safe route” for the general population of young people.
But the cost of college is rising even as information advances. According to Forbes, the price of college is increasing almost 8 times faster than wages. USA Today reports that the cost of tuition to private universities has increased $7000 per year in the last 5 years alone!
The average student owes $37,172 in student loan debt. The total debt among US students now equals $1.5 trillion.
But those numbers don’t compare to the 4 years you’ll be sacrificing. That’s 48 months’ worth of cool projects you could work on. During that time, you could read 208 books of your choice (if you read one each week). That’s 1460 days and 35,040 hours that you’re giving to a money-sucking beast.
Sure, if you absolutely could not get a good job without college, these numbers could maybe, possibly have some merit. But hundreds of people are proving otherwise. Check out this job application that requires a creative Instagram post. Or this girl who got hired at Spotify by creating a landing page showing her love for music. Or this guy who assessed a startup company’s marketing funnel and sent them a video with his suggestions for how he could create value for them in a marketing role.
How can someone land a tech apprenticeship?
There are two options:
1). Get your own apprenticeship. Here are some resources if that’s the route you want to take:
2). Have a third party connect you with an apprenticeship. Here are some examples of companies and organizations that do just that:
Apprenticeship has been around for years. But it’s making a new comeback as technology advances. It’s the ultimate educational opportunity for anyone who is excited to forge their own path in life.
Are you interested in more career options for your homeschooler? Check out our Self-Paced Career Exploration Courses!
Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who loves education. She is a Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis, where she works with other young people to help them build careers they love through apprenticeships. She originally published this piece here on the Praxis blog. In her spare time she is learning as much about the world as possible. Her latest interests are French and the ukulele. Interested in an apprenticeship or just want to chat about this idea? She would love to hear your thoughts! Her email is lolita(at)discoverpraxis(dot)com.