Derek Magill is a college dropout. But don’t let that make you think Derek doesn’t know what’s going on.
Derek realized something during his time in school. He was learning more outside of the classroom. His classmates were there for the credit hours. And a successful career is not made from humanities courses.
Then, he went on to work on a campaign for a US congressional race. To selling guns. To doing photography. Derek’s been able to work with incredible businesses around the United States all without a college degree.
In episode 44 of the Answers From Leadership Podcast, Derek and I discuss what the changing landscape of education looks like and what that looks like for organizations today. Listen in and discover why apprenticeships are the next big thing in business.
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What else would you like listeners to know about you?
I would say I could add to that a little. I’m the director of marketing at Praxis. Praxis is a 12-month start-up apprenticeship program for young people who want to sidestep some of the traditional barriers to entry to building a great career. One of those barriers is college.
How would you define leadership?
There are different ways I could look at it. I think, off the top of my head, something that is common in most leaders is the ability to take very abstract positions and thoughts and principles and motivate people to apply the concrete manifestations of those ideas and principles.
Where’d the idea for Praxis come from?
Our founder, Isaac Moorehouse, he was really interested in education most of his life. Really intested in what could be done to improve the education system. For a lot of his life he thought the solution lied in politics and then working the system.
He realized pretty quickly the problem was kids weren’t getting exposed to the skills and experiences they needed to be successful. He saw an opportunity to create something better.
For the apprenticeship programs, how does that benefit the employers and employees?
We’ve learned even more and more about as we’ve been around longer. Especially as business partners come back and tell us they want more Praxis apprentices.
There’s a couple of things they get out of apprentices. Number one is they’re getting a young person who brings a lot of energy to the table and who is willing to work for cheap. This is in exchange for the experiences and the opportunity to shadow them. Then at the end of the process, the employee gets a job offer and the employer gets a trained employee.
Have there been any issues with apprentices in the program?
Yeah, yeah this is a hard practice. Any real apprencticeship role is hard.
There’s a big shift from the school mentality of show up and get good grades. It’s a big change and a lot of people struggle with it.
That’s why we have a six-month bootcamp. This is completed prior to the apprenticship. We work out a lot of the kinks in the system and that are in most young people coming out of school.
Have you seen any reluctnace from organzations or bussiness to take on apprentices?
Not a whole lot. It’s been surprising that we’ve had businesses knocking down our door. THere’s always a sales process to getting people interested and on board.
Once we make the pitch, businesses line up. We’re really excited about it.
What kind of business really benefits from apprenticeship programs and apprentices?
I think for the most part any business can benefit from an apprenticship program. It’s been a universal way of taking a young person and making them into a skilled professional. It’s been across the board in arts and sciences and business.
If I were to say what the best apprenticship is it is heavily focused on individual relationships within a company rather than a specific company. I’d rather have someone go into a no-name company with a really cool, interested entreprenur than a big company were they’re going to be in a compartimentalized role.
Does having an apprentice shadowing you impact the ability of the CEO or any other individual they’re shadowing to get the job done?
I think this is where a lot of young people miss this when looking for apprenticship. They put a little too much onus on the person in the mentorship role to go out of their way to help them. We teach people in our program how to become really valuable to those people. When you become valuable, you’re basically getting coaching and mentorship from them.
How have the apprentices in the Praxis program responded to the shift from teacher-student relationship to figuring out what to do on their own?
It is tremendously empowering to them. It puts them in the drivers seat of their own lives like they’ve never felt before.
Do you have any success stories you can share from apprentices or the business side?
First, we have a 98% employment rate for our graduates and an average of about $50,000 per year. We’ve had over 170 people go through the program.
There’s a guy named Charles who came to us at 16 and was bored at high and decided he needed to get out into the real world. We got him an apprenticeship in Atalnta where he got into a sales role. He’s just turned 18 and the CEO nomminated him for Atlanta’s 20 under 20.
If an organization or business wants to begin using apprentices, how would they do that?
On our website, discoverpraxis.com, you can go on and there’s a business partner page where you can fill out a brief information form and we’ll contact you. We get to know you and what your business needs are. We make sure there’s a good fit for you and the apprentice.
What do you wish you would have known about leadership or education in your early 20’s?
About education, it’s two components. The first is that the best education is tied to real world value creation. If I were 19 or 20 now, I would be much more focused on working towards turning an essay into online content. Or some kind of project I share with other people. This would have made me more passionate about the material and a better learner.
In terms of leadership, that’s a tough one. I would have probably learned to be more empathetic towards people. To be more understanding of where they’re coming from.
What’s one or two books that have impacted your life?
I really enjoyed The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I found it to be really valuable.
The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris had a cheesy title but was very inspiring. It broke down a lot of misconceptions I had about the working world.
Another one I would do is End Of Jobs by Taylor Pearson. It’s a great book on the future of work.
Do you have any parting words of wisdom for listeners?
It comes back to what I was talking about with education. We live in a really cool time where the opportunity to be a self creator and renisonace man or woman is more abundant than ever before. I would encourage anybody listening to this if they want to get into a leadership role, the best thing they can do is to become a prolific creator.
If someone wants to connect with you, how would you recommend they do that?