Despite being employed I often find myself perusing what is out there. I’m likely not alone in that regard. Lately, though, I have become increasingly disheartened by stories I read online chronicling the interview processes at some well–known companies as well as the expectations set forth in candidate requirements. The requirement I tend to find most worrisome is “Must have X years of experience”. When, and why, did this become the norm? It has created a catch-22 whereby you do not qualify for the job because you do not have the experience, but how are you supposed to get the experience if you cannot get hired for the job?
When I was first trying to get into this industry I asked a local company about an apprenticeship and the owner turned me down because he said he did not have time for his employees to spend training me, they needed to be working on client projects (stuff that pays). In fact, in approximately 9 years in this industry I have never had a work experience in which I was trained or educated by a more advanced colleague, I was typically thrown to the wolves and had to figure it out. This is not meant to be a woe is me tale, I simply did not know any better at the time, and it is something that I have come to regret.
I realize, of course, that some jobs have stricter requirements of experience than others. It is, however, an interesting dilemma that seems to be fairly consistent in our industry. Is it the norm to see investing in apprentices as a waste of time and resources? It is not uncommon to see complaints regarding the shortage of talent (re: experience) on the market but it seems there is a way to address that: train people. Perhaps instead of looking for people who have X years of experience we should instead look for people who have a demonstrable desire to learn, a dedication to their craft, and a willingness to work hard toward becoming a more well-rounded professional.
As a whole we need to remember that we did not all start out knowing how to design. We did not all start out knowing how to code. We had to learn. Sharing that wealth of knowledge can do only good, it certainly cannot hurt.