What needs to be done and who can do it?  Connecting serious candidates with mentors able to teach, that’s what. Otherwise, internships can be too hit-or-miss for either party.  Anne Tilney created Apprenticeship Connections in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Anne shows a way to make matches that work.

Apprenticeship Connections gives individuals the opportunity to experience the excitement and challenges of a profession before committing to a choice.  Currently, a dozen mentors are gathered.  They include a filmmaker, butcher, jeweler, artisan food maker, furniture maker, blacksmith and more.

Students apply by filling out a form on the website. They identify their field of interest, why they want experience and what skills they bring.  Anne asks the applicant, “If you were a mentor, what, other than skills, would you teach your apprentice?”

Apprenticeship Connections interviews the candidate to determine if the person has the drive and seriousness that is required.  Apprenticeship Connections also vets the mentors to be certain that they are people who truly wish to teach their craft and and are able teach.  This is how a good alignment between student and mentor is found.

Apprenticeship Connections aims to open the door.  Offering two hundred hours of experience, this is only a first step of exploration between student and mentor.  The work is expected to to be completed within six months.  If the pace of work is full time, it may run for as little as five weeks.  A definite period and an endpoint encourages the apprentice and mentor to conclude with a judgement about the experience. Did it satisfy both apprentice and mentor? Afterwards, the student and mentor may strike an agreement for a second phase.  Employment or a longer apprenticeship may take place between the two.

Education is not free.  It is, though, a matter of who pays.  In this model, the student pays a matchmaking fee if they are accepted for the mentoring experience.  A recent newspaper article characterized the price, saying, “This doesn’t come cheap – students pay a fee of $500 for 200 hours of personalized instruction.”  Really? What can they be thinking?  $2.50 an hour for the one-on-one attention of a mentor?  By any measure, this is a great deal for any student selected.

Lets talk about free. The mentor does not pay a fee for this match-making service nor pay the apprentice. Rather, the mentor contributes his or her time – namely, 200 hours.  The mentor’s time, if measured in dollars, would far outweigh the match fee and swamp the value of work the apprentice is likely to produce during the brief collaboration. Sometimes, this will lead to long term, productive employment.  The cost of training will trail off and the mentor will see a positive return on the investment. Other times, mentor and apprentice part ways, the mentor having made a contribution to the craft and to the apprentice benefiting from the experience.

The value is compelling.  Even so, Apprenticeship Connections provides scholarships when warranted.   Or family, relatives and community groups are free to sponsor a person in their care.

This model of making matches is why Apprenticeship Connections is important.  Just the other day, a professional in the county government where I live told me, “An intern can be hit or miss. The person might be terrific.  Or it may be a big disappointment.”  He is now reluctant.  He is less likely to open the door to another student.  Apprenticeship Connections could change his mind.

Please read everything at  https://apprenticeshipconnections.org   Pass it on to people you know.  But study this model of making connections.

Keep going, Anne!