Debate Magazine

Apprenticeships and Internships

By Stevemiranda

In the old days, young people served apprenticeships with elders as a way of mastering a craft.

Now, young people try to land internships. An internship, you see, could look really good on your resume or your application to graduate school.

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An apprenticeship is about gaining valuable, applicable, real-life skills right now.

An internship is about gaining a leg up on the competition, about maneuvering up the corporate hierarchy, positioning one’s self for the future.

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An apprenticeship is about establishing a deep relationship with a mentor, a master craftsman.

An internship is about networking, about securing a coveted letter of recommendation that might be useful later.

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An apprenticeship is about dedication to a craft and gaining a skill that will allow you to make a contribution.

An internship is about participating in a process that will, hopefully, grant you a type of certification in the eyes of a gatekeeper.

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I’m using these two words—apprenticeship and certification—in a way that’s overly simplistic, but I’m doing it to make a point: when your daughter heads off to school each morning, does she treat it like an apprenticeship or an internship?

Is she more concerned with learning something interesting, or her GPA? Is she developing deep relationships with mentors, or merely securing snazzy letters of recommendation? Is she learning something useful right now, or participating in a ritual as preparation for the future?

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Here’s perhaps the most important question: does your daughter’s school view it’s work as closer to providing apprenticeships, or internships?

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