Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reverse Internships: “Hire a Whippersnapper to Teach You New Skills”

“Reverse Internships” read the headline in the in-flight magazine. “Jay Heinrichs recommends letting the students do the teaching in the office.” He opens with a tribute to his young-adult daughter and describes all he has learned from her, quickly reaching his thesis: Instead of hiring young people as interns at our offices, we older types should try interning with them. Kids simply do some things better. Why not invite them to guide us through the latest big thing, the latest tech trend, the world of social media?

In his profession, like many, getting a degree doesn’t prepare you for a job nearly as well as getting a degree and serving an internship. “Education only takes kids so far; after that, it’ a matter of learning by doing, of imitating one’s betters.”

Handy as it is to have a few interns around, the one who benefits the most from a good internship is the intern, right? “Which makes me want to be one,” he says.

Why shouldn’t each of us, regardless of age or status, look around for someone who knows something we’d like to learn and try to persuade them to set up a training time, or take us on as an ongoing student? Then, don’t just take go away with a few tips, but really treat it like an internship. Commit yourself to being guided by and learning from someone else. I like that idea.

Read more in Reverse Internships, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Airlines, December 2009

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