“I think he’s better than I am,” Octavia said.

Octavia is one of our junior developers. Like me, she has a desire to help people out of poverty. I had asked her to join me in interviewing people for our new WordPress Developer apprenticeship position. We were both surprised by the candidates that made the final cut. Octavia thought the final person we spoke with knew more about coding than she did.

All three people we interviewed were trying to self-educate to build their skill. Two of them had formal education from community colleges. One of them paid for schooling using student aid and the other paid for it by working a graveyard shift as a janitor. Several had the goal of getting into tech so that they could earn more and support people they cared about.

In sum, three highly motivated people with strong personal qualities and some ability for an apprenticeship that pays $17/hour.

This spring I attended a financial presentation for agencies where the host mentioned that he was seeing a trend of new graduates from four year universities seeking initial salaries of over $100,000 or roughly $52/hour.

I would bet that two of the three I talked with were significantly more capable than the average four-year school graduate. The hurdle they face is that they have no resume and are being filtered out of businesses’ job search because they don’t have a track record.

Because we approach it as an apprenticeship offering experience over compensation, the kinds of people we’re attracting are people who match our culture of growth and investment.

As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly seeking ways to elevate the value of things. What I’ve learned in launching this apprenticeship is that there is a large pool of under appreciated people out there. It’s a resource that could be much more valuable that most businesses overlook because of convention.

The featured image is an illustration from “The Ugly Duckling” by Vilhelm Pedersen used under Public Domain.