I am so grateful for my experience at The Apprenticeship Center. I didn’t even know about The Apprenticeship Center until this past summer when I met with Linda and my professor Bruce for a meeting. By the end of the meeting I knew I wanted to get involved with this organization that sought to bridge the gap between academic learning and the world of work. It was my goal to get TAC ready for replication and see that more and more people have the opportunity to access a live learning lab! During my time at TAC I worked with Linda to develop an operational manual for a TAC Franchise, I did a Needs Assessment for replication through Social Franchising and I provided a final overview of my recommendations to develop the TAC Brand. Some of my recommendations related to potential partners, ideas for sustainably funding TAC, and marketing ideas for telling the story of TAC’s impact.
Not only did I learn about TACs model of bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace, but I was able bridge some gaps in my own life. During my time at TAC I realized I wanted to have a career in workforce development. I was able to figure out how I wanted to approach the field, and in the spring I will begin my Master’s in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies which draws upon the fields of education, psychology, communications, and management in order to improve human performance. I will learn how to create innovative approaches to helping people improve their skills, knowledge, and job performance. I believe I will be able to create more value in organizations and maybe even start my own! I cannot express how thankful I am for my time at TAC and receiving mentorship and guidance from Linda, Bruce and Olivier! This was an internship/apprenticeship experience like no other that has allowed me to see Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in action and given me clarity and direction to map out the next steps in my career journey.
I had a great week at The Apprenticeship Center (TAC) as I continued working on identifying the gaps in the TAC Business Plan to prepare the model for replication. I was excited to discover a Social Franchising Guide online, which has been of great benefit for my projects. The guide defined social franchising as the use of a commercial franchising approach to replicate and share proven organizational models for greater social impact. It also talked about alternative methods of replication like open source dissemination, joint ventures, partnerships, licensing, etc. While I believe social franchising is the best option, I’ve realized TAC is far from being ready to franchise. Through the use of a readiness assessment provided in the guide, I can see that there is a need for more development of TAC’s systems and procedures, a need for more marketing to increase TAC brand recognition, a need for finances, and several other things. I also learned how much goes into becoming a franchisor including making a franchise agreement, documenting all the processes, the operational guide, developing training and support and creating a performance measurement systems, among other things. It will take time to develop TAC as a social franchise, but I believe TAC has a replicable model as it is. At this time this best option may be a small pilot that replicates the TAC model.
With this in mind, I’ve also worked on a PowerPoint titled “So You Want To Start Your Own TAC” and I’ve begun an outline of the essential components and processes that make TAC what it is. I’ve identified some people I believe I should speak with within the organization about the recruiting process, the training process, and the service delivery process. I look forward to gathering more information about TAC to better codify the processes and get it one step closer to successful replication.
This past week went very well. I would say the highlight was being able to meet with Linda, my Knowledge Navigator(mentor) and discuss my progress on my projects. As I spoke about in my previous post, during the internship I’ve realized how difficult it is to create and develop something new, without any blueprints or extensive instructions. Gratefully Linda helps guide me with my projects while still challenging me to think critically. One of my main projects is to develop an operational manual for replicating The Apprenticeship Center (TAC), like that of a franchisee operational manual. During our meeting I started reviewing the outline I had been working on and discussing the essential components and business processes that makeup TAC. Linda really helped me by encouraging me to focus on who my audience is. She helped me realize my audience may include funders, community leaders, students, higher education institutions, and various others. She encouraged me to imagine that I have people who have agreed to start a new TAC but now want to know how TAC really works and how we are going to approach implementing it in a new community. At the end of the semester, I will put together a presentation to describe the implementation process and Linda will have business and community leaders evaluate my presentation.
So far, my experience at The Apprenticeship Center (TAC) has been very different from any other internship I’ve done. I am so grateful to have found a truly socially entrepreneurial organization. TAC uses an apprenticeship model to bridge the gap between academic learning and the workplace for students, while also providing mission critical services to nonprofits and small businesses at lower rates. To provide guidance and real industry knowledge, each apprentice receives a Knowledge Navigator who is a current or retired industry professional. TAC has a model that truly creates shared value, benefitting all who are involved. I have the awesome opportunity to serve as a Project Apprentice to work on projects for TACs development.
My experience has been fun but certainly a challenging one so far. I am learning that there is a lot of work behind innovation. Entrepreneurship and innovation are words that get thrown around a lot and can often be glamorized but being innovative is difficult. My assignments are very unique and require a lot of critical thinking, when you are innovating, you don’t have a manual or a guidebook. I am learning how to research, utilize resources, collaborate, and think critically about the tasks at hand.
One of the goals of the organization is to replicate their model elsewhere. But first the Executive Director who is also my Knowledge Navigator, wants to develop a better infrastructure for the model. So one of my assignments has to do with identifying gaps in the TAC business plan and documenting TACs essential components and processes. I will eventually start drafting an operational model that may potentially be used by other organizations wanting to successfully replicate the model. It is a tough but exciting process as I try to imagine myself as someone trying to recreate TAC in a new place. I think about what I would need to successfully replicate the live learning laboratory that TAC has created. I’m learning that you won’t get results immediately with complex projects, but I believe the work will be worth it when I am able to actually create value for TAC by working towards a real need for the organization.