My friend’s Facebook post (yup, I’m on that, too—you apparently have to be to be certified as a true human being; I’m sure if Aristotle were alive today he wouldn’t have said, “I think, therefore I am” but “I’m on Facebook, therefore I am”–but I digress) simply said the following:
“What do you think about working for free? My friend just told me he’s volunteering at a high-end restaurant to learn the trade secrets.”
It was an interesting discussion that ensued, but not a single comment thought it was a dumb idea. Many applauded the move. Here’s two comments that I thought were astute:
“If you gain valuable expertise from working for free, then you’re really just trading time for knowledge instead of time for money. . . so at the end of the day
you’re not really working for free because that knowledge is sometimes worth more than the money itself.”
In other words, you’re getting an education that you’re neither paying tuition for, nor getting paid for—free education, I guess.
And the other one:
“Rich people work for free; poor people work for money. . . ”
Whoa! You gotta’ think about that one for awhile. But I think there’s some truth to it.
It was, of course, Robert Kiyosaki who popularized the concept “Work to learn, not for money!” in his best-selling personal finance book Rich Dad, Poor Dad (which, by the way, everyone should read.) That’s what he’d done, working for free for his “rich dad” so that he wouldn’t end up like his “poor dad.” He learned from him the secrets of getting ahead financially.
It’s the way it used to be done in the gilds of the pre-industrial world. It’s the way it was done in the academic schools of the ancient Greeks.
You’d simply work under a master for a time, in order to learn the skills of the trade. That will eventually make you an expert, also. Like the one comment above: you get your education, so you’re really putting yourself further ahead (probably even financially) in the long run.
It’s still—sort of—done in apprenticeship training, though that is more formally controlled and usually not free, just cheap.
Any entrepreneur knows that you usually work for free, possibly even lose money, for the first while when you’re starting a new venture. In part, at least, it’s because there is so much to learn about any new venture that you can really can’t know before you’re actually in it. (Ask me how I know this!)
For such people, wouldn’t they be further ahead to have worked for free under an experienced mentor for a time before launching the new venture? Isn’t free better than losing money?
For many professions, you pay to get the training necessary to succeed at the task. And then, after putting out all that money, you get to work in an (almost free) apprenticeship/internship before becoming certified. You’re many thousands of dollars behind before you even start making money. But you do it with the expectation that it will all pay off in the long run. You might even pay off your student loan eventually.
In the U.S. (though not so much in Canada), it’s assumed that you’ll be at least a hundred thousand dollars in debt when you graduate from university, and that you’ll never pay that off; you’ll eventually just roll it over into your mortgage. But, we’re not that far behind them.
In that context, “work to learn, not for money” sounds like a good deal financially. At least you’re not many thousands of dollars in debt when you graduate.
At least, that’s how I see it . . .