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Reverse Apprenticeships: A New Kind of Employee Mentoring Program

Well, it’s not exactly proof that my earlier prediction that twinternships will take the business world by storm has come true (…yet), but today in the AdAge 3-Minute Video below, BBDO Worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson discusses a very similar trend happening at the worldwide ad agency: reverse apprenticeships.

 

Earlier this week, I mentioned how Pizza Hut’s search for a social media intern (a.k.a. the previously mentioned “twintern”) represents the opportunity for the chain to learn about social media from those who know the digital world best. As we see here, it looks like BBDO recognizes that opportunity as well. 

Robertson explains what he’s calling a “reverse apprenticeship” as exactly that: a flip from the typical way we think about mentoring programs or internships.  As BBDO strives to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world and looks for “ways in which digital can enhance the programs we offer,” executives are turning to its younger workers to pass on their digital expertise to the rest of the company. 

The reverse apprenticeship, it seems, isn’t so much a program as it is an attitude – the acceptance that younger workers have something to teach more seasoned employees (and consequently deserve recognition).

I like what BBDO’s doing here – and I’m not even just referring to how the agency is making purposeful strides toward a culture that embraces social media, but to the bigger implications of the reverse apprencticeship…That is, the idea of recognizing employee strengths (an issue Peter Bregman recently addressed in this Harvard Business blog post), and leveraging those strengths to teach - and learn from – one another.  Seems like a win-win situation to me.  Am I wrong?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
5 comments
SouthWind84
SouthWind84

The charging electrical cables and electronics, including in the car, would have to be capable of very high power flows. ,

Mike Jennings
Mike Jennings

This article is nice in thought and sounds hip in a "change we can believe in" sort of way, but isn't this what good leaders do anyway? If you're leading an organization and not listening to what your people are telling you, then you're setting yourself up for failure. Isn't that why the "true blue IBM" model of "yes-men" has gone the way of the dinosaur. Good business leaders are constantly looking for ways to increase their markets, and it's no surprise that Gen Y communicates in different ways than Gen X and then generations before. Great, we've been hearing this since the mid 90's, creating the term "reverse apprenticeship" to attract this group of people is disingenuous at best. This group of people doesn't need a program title to make themselves feel better about what they do. They need good leaders. The problem that Gen Y has as a general rule is that its members are not familiar with the benefits and wisdome that come from delayed gratification of any sort. Our recent financial catastrophe is tied closely to this mindset that the old rules don't apply anymore. Catering to that mindset may be important for marketing to this group, but the old rules are now more relevant than ever. You don't come out of school with wisdom; you come out with skills. Every leader needs to find ways to help his people feel that their contributions are important, but to make the statement that a 20-something is in some way imparting "wisdom" to his older colleague is ridiculous. Let's call this what it really is: Good leaders leveraging the assets of their people to the advantage of their businesses. Nothing more; nothing less; and certainly nothing new.

Mike Jennings
Mike Jennings

This article is nice in thought and sounds hip in a "change we can believe in" sort of way, but isn't this what good leaders do anyway? If you're leading an organization and not listening to what your people are telling you, then you're setting yourself up for failure. Isn't that why the "true blue IBM" model of "yes-men" has gone the way of the dinosaur. Good business leaders are constantly looking for ways to increase their markets, and it's no surprise that Gen Y communicates in different ways than Gen X and then generations before. Great, we've been hearing this since the mid 90's, creating the term "reverse apprenticeship" to attract this group of people is disingenuous at best. This group of people doesn't need a program title to make themselves feel better about what they do. They need good leaders. The problem that Gen Y has as a general rule is that its members are not familiar with the benefits and wisdome that come from delayed gratification of any sort. Our recent financial catastrophe is tied closely to this mindset that the old rules don't apply anymore. Catering to that mindset may be important for marketing to this group, but the old rules are now more relevant than ever. You don't come out of school with wisdom; you come out with skills. Every leader needs to find ways to help his people feel that their contributions are important, but to make the statement that a 20-something is in some way imparting "wisdom" to his older colleague is ridiculous. Let's call this what it really is: Good leaders leveraging the assets of their people to the advantage of their businesses. Nothing more; nothing less; and certainly nothing new.

Michael Long
Michael Long

Gen Y is going to love this trend! It's actually very refreshing that value is being placed on individuals based on skills and talents as opposed to tenure. Don't get me wrong, we all have something to learn from people who have put in their time - but, that's not to say that fresh ideas and new methods for approaching business aren't valuable. This is very good, in my humble opinion.

I'll have to Tweet this out now... there are a bunch of people who will surely want to see this!

Looking forward,
Michael Long
The Red Recruiter

Michael Long
Michael Long

Gen Y is going to love this trend! It's actually very refreshing that value is being placed on individuals based on skills and talents as opposed to tenure. Don't get me wrong, we all have something to learn from people who have put in their time - but, that's not to say that fresh ideas and new methods for approaching business aren't valuable. This is very good, in my humble opinion.

I'll have to Tweet this out now... there are a bunch of people who will surely want to see this!

Looking forward,
Michael Long
The Red Recruiter

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