The Dark Side of Apprenticeship

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If you’re randomly picking interns from the undergrad and newly-graduated flock based on either paper impressiveness or from a 30-second casual conversation, then you’re doing yourself, your industry, and the intern, a grave disservice.


Last we spoke of mentorship, it was mostly pretty rainbows and lovely Karate goodness (see: Who’s Your Daniel-san?). To which the mentorship process was discussed from a starting point of having a good mentee to begin with. Here’s the fantastical reality check. You don’t really want a Daniel-san, especially if you’re looking to create a lasting empire or a legacy of badassery. You want, and need a Darth Maul.


Not this guy


THIS guy

In this age of generational office conflicts in work ethic and attitude between Gen X and the Millennials, the best bridging exercise is to create a mutually beneficial structure, of master and apprentice – rallying for the common goal of industry domination. This may be a small section of a niche industry specialisation, or even a global business empire, regardless, but what better way to close the generational gap, than to have a common (insidious) objective. However, to have an apprentice the likes of Darth Maul-dedication and commitment, would require a master of calibre, moderated according to the base level of the apprentice. To achieve this, an adherence to the key fundamental principles of Sith apprenticeship is necessary.

NOTE: If you think having an intern means coffee on demand, laundry pickups or having hipsters hanging around the water cooler talking pop culture to liven the office up, stop reading and leave now. No wait, do everyone a favour and leave your organisation – forever.

The Apprentice Selection Process Must be Rigorous and Brutal

If you were at war, and you knew it would last for generations to come, clearly your limited mortality would require you to choose a successor. And surely your criteria would include a selection process so finely tuned, that no mere weakling would be sent to perish in the battlefield just for the spectacle of death. The same applies to businesses. If you were to take in an intern for any other reason than to create a better future version of you, then you’re a self-serving, egomaniac. Do not settle for anything less than the best of any crop of applicants coming your way. Test and re-test them to their limits and factor in the following:

Base level of proficiency: Start from an acceptable level of skill and intelligence

Trainability: The willingness to accept knowledge and dogma

Resilience: The ability to get back up when you knock them down

Gumption: The necessary instincts to survive

And most importantly – Principle Alignment: if your apprentice is a Jedi at heart, slay now and be done with it

Anyone failing any of the above factor-criteria must is either not ready, or unsuitable for what is at hand.


Goodbye HAND!

An Acceptable Level of Collateral Damage

Everything will eventually become a numbers game. With rigorous testing and retesting, it is inevitable that many will drop out – both applicants and apprentices. So keep your pool of available applicants vast and varied (team composition is also important, see: The Only Team You’ll Ever Really Need). This tutelage is not meant for everyone, and neither is it an exercise of libertarian acceptance. It is a discerning Darwinian filtration process. It will take time to find the right ones, because (A) No one said it would be easy and (B) Creating a better future version of yourself is an introspective assessment that does not happen overnight.


Your obliteration will not be in vain

The Apprentice Must Be Trained to Kill the Master

Strangely, the key concept that most managers and bosses have trouble embracing – which is befuddling. Pragmatically, and by definition, a successor succeeds you. If you do not train your successor well, your legacy will be as half-arsed as your apprenticeship program. As such, throw everything you have at your apprentice, from skills, knowledge, brutal exams… EVERY freaking thing you know. And if that chosen one survives and plots to destroy you (eventually) and succeeds, you can rest well, knowing that this will perpetuate and spawn a legion of assassins, acolytes and marauders, all trained to dominate in the business world, by your cruel (to be kind) hand.




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Imran Johri

Imran is a media and communications geek with a media career spanning 18 years of collective experience in television, publications, communications as well as in marketing and digital strategy development. He's also an avid social media observer and indulges in feature writing projects as well as scriptwriting for stage and TV when he has the time. But he doesn't. He's got two kids.


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