I want an
September 12, 2003
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of the Tech Podcast Network
Yes, that’s right. I want an apprentice. Not some
Dickensian, child in forced-labor kind of apprentice, of course, or even
a Donald Trump–type apprentice (I added this just for the podcast
version - Douglas, 5/31/05) , but someone who wants to know what
I know about technology. Someone who wants to begin their career with
all the advantages that weren’t available when I was starting mine.
Even more, I wonder why no one has sought out myself (or any of you readers)
to help them start their high-tech career.
Who can you turn to?
When I was starting my career, there was simply no one to turn to if you
wanted to learn about PCs. Colleges were still immersed in their programmer-centric
discipline and computers weren’t common enough accessories to find
many friends that could help you, either. Those of us who could find one
another started user groups, but even then we were divided by incompatible
hardware and software. If you wanted to learn about PCs, you were on your
Of course, now the situation has changed dramatically. Chances are that
most of your friends and relatives have computers, many running the same
MS Windows. You can trade information and learn much more quickly. That
said, there is still a dearth of people to teach you how to work in high-tech
as a career, or start a high-tech business of your own.
Knowledge for the taking
Many of us have a great desire to share our high-tech knowledge with others.
This is how I came to writing in the first place. It was another way to
“get the word out” to those who could benefit from my experience.
Perhaps you give classes at a local library or college or are an executive
on a user group committee. Whatever the reason, we like sharing.
This should be the perfect opportunity for someone who wants to learn
about high-tech as a career. Back in my college days, I would have begged
for someone who could help me walk through the minefields of a high-tech
life so that I didn’t have to suffer all the setbacks they had already
experienced. Which leads me to wonder, where are the newcomers and why
aren’t they seeking out this repository of knowledge we carry around?
To answer my own question, of course, nowadays there are alternative methods
of gaining our knowledge and that of thousands of others. The Internet
has the power to connect anyone to more information than one person could
ever hope to absorb. Friends and relatives are more advanced in their
computer skills. The world is simply more computer literate. Still, I
often read email and discussion group postings about the basic issues
of building a high-tech career – how much to charge – where
to work – corporate or freelance. It seems there is a disconnect
between those of us who are working in high-tech and those who want to
join the club.
Speaking for myself, perhaps I come across as too old and too much of
a grump for people to seek me out. Maybe they don’t think I am on
the cutting (make that, bleeding edge) enough to offer any insight. Maybe
they already know everything they need to know. Whatever the reason, I
don’t get half as many questions as I expected when I first started
writing about technology.
A modern-day apprenticeship could benefit everyone involved. High-tech
workers could feel good about passing on their knowledge while gaining
the use of a set of hands along with a willing and eager mind. I have
no desire to have “employees”, but I would welcome the assistance
of an apprentice on my rounds. Apprentices could try on the trappings
of a high-tech career before committing to it as a vocation. If they like
it, they could learn at the accelerated pace that practical knowledge
and exposure brings. The idea of apprenticeship works in both the corporate
world and the world of freelance. I have always thought there should be
a more structured method of introducing new high-tech workers into a company.
Even today, many are left to sink and swim on their own , struggling to
learn how the company works, as well as learning about the technology.
We should all expect better.
Get in touch
Whether you are already established in your high-tech career, or just
starting out, I would be interested in hearing your comments on this.
Are you looking for an apprentice, too? Are you looking to be an apprentice
to a knowledgeable high-tech worker? Are any of you involved in some type
of an arrangement like this? Drop me a line and fill me in on the state
of apprenticeship in high-tech and the state of your high-tech career.
Book of the week: The
Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni