Journeymen get older as apprentices grow wiser. As an apprenticing heavy equipment technician, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible mechanics. Experienced mechanics have the kind of knowledge you can’t find in a book. Ask anyone of them a question related to the trade and I can almost guarantee they will be more than happy to answer.
They say ten thousand hours of experience qualifies you as an “expert.” Well how about twenty thousand or thirty thousand hours? There are experienced journeypersons aging towards retirement across the country, and we as apprentices need to ask more questions before the knowledge is lost. I may suggest finding a master mechanic, one who will take you under their wing. Ask to see their collection of special tools, or for a tip of the day. Ask them what they like about the trade, or better yet what they don’t.
We have the opportunity to shape the direction of the trade as we ripen into the later years of apprenticeship. Take a day to improve yourself, do a job to the best of your abilities, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
What would our journey people have done differently? What will the trade be like without our thirty thousand hours’ worth of experience journey people? They are there to help us improve on our own skills, which we have developed through trial and error. One day we will be certified mechanics and need to capitalize on the knowledge that our predecessors have to offer.
The next time you walk into the shop, tomorrow, Monday, or maybe next week, hold your head a little bit higher. Even though you may be the lowest man on the totem pole, someday through hard work, dedication, and focus, you will be at the top. Apprenticeship is about learning from your mistakes, collecting knowledge like a frog catches flies, and daily improvement.
If you feel like your spinning your wheels, remember our journey people were once apprentices too, many moons ago. Think about how far you’ve come and the direction you are going. For me, I look towards the toolbox for answers; it was once empty and is now half full, much like a person’s thirst for knowledge, constantly growing. It’s one thing to read a textbook on mechanics; it’s another thing to write it.