On the 16th of January, exactly 1 month ago I was starting my journey as an apprentice at HolidayCheck. At that point, the whole idea of the apprenticeship was this ethereal concept that I described as a big set of expectations from everyone involved . And even though 1 month doesn’t seem like a big amount of time, a lot of things have happened.
Question answering machine
So far, one of my main activities as an Apprentice has been answering everyone’s questions about the program. And when I say everyone, I really mean every single one. Colleagues, people in tech, people outside of tech and even my parents have questions that demand answers. Surprisingly, I haven’t grown tired of answering the same questions over and over again. I could speak about the Apprenticeship at length, spend hours going over every possible aspect as I see it. And I realized, that I’m not getting bored by the questions because I love what I’m doing. I also find that my answers have evolved with time, and become longer the more time I spend being an Apprentice.
There is one very specific question that I find particularly important:
The value you’re getting from the apprenticeship is clear. But what is the company getting from it?
Well, it’s true that I’m not a productive member of the engineering team in the traditional sense of productivity. That means, I’m not directly adding or changing lines of code in the product yet. What that doesn’t mean is that the only way a developer can add value is by writing code. I believe we can add value by all of our human interactions. When we ask questions, when we discuss topics, when we share knowledge, that’s also adding value to a product. So it’s true, I may not be directly pushing lines of code to our product yet, but I firmly believe the Apprenticeship program is adding value in other regards and will continue doing so in the future.
All about trust
There is no safety net. Neither for me, nor for HolidayCheck. There is no signed agreement that I will stay here for N number of years after the apprenticeship process is over or vice-versa. But I think that’s exactly what makes it work.
It all boils down to trust. When I accepted the Apprenticeship program, I placed all my trust in HolidayCheck and everyone involved that I was going to find what I wanted for my career here. And they in turn trusted me to use this time to become the best possible version of myself achievable and to empower others around me while doing so. And if either of the parts had any doubts about this, then it would be impossible for our mutual expectations to be met.
My part of the deal is to do everything to live up to the trust placed in me. When said like that, it feels like a huge, overwhelming burden on my back, but it truly isn’t. Not if I don’t stop to think about it in such broad terms.
One day at a time
If I were to wake up every morning thinking about the future, the day the apprenticeship ends, I probably would stay in bed, paralyzed by overthinking. I wrote about this already but I think it bears repeating: The only way to go forward with this, is moving forward, one day at a time without the need to set things in stone.
Famous philosopher Bruce Lee once said:
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
And I believe that’s what both me as an apprentice and the apprenticeship program should be. There may be an initial shape for a cup, but what shape we end up having is entirely unknown. As much as the apprenticeship is shaping me, I’m shaping it. We’re basically making up the rules as we go depending on what seems to make sense at any given moment. The freedom in that idea makes everything seem possible. And that’s a great feeling to have at your job.
If I was positive a month ago about this journey, now I can double down on that optimism. I feel like I’ve grown more in a month than I had in the past year. And wether that’s true or not, or if the apprenticeship can keep up that pace in the future is not relevant right now. I believe it will. My mentors and fellow apprentice believe it will. And since we’re the ones in charge of making it happen, that’s what really matters.