CALL FOR APPRENTICESHIP

 

Social Synergy Foundation is a section 8 non-profit company that provides organisational development support to a select portfolio of small to medium-sized non-profits. Out of sheer coincidence, much of its client portfolio happens to include organisations attempting to solve gender-related questions including agency building, habitat improvement, reproductive health, gender activism and advocacy, and of these, a majority are helmed by women. The Company as such has no sectoral or issue-based emphasis and looks only to engage with like-minded leadership over long time spans.

 

Though the Company is comprised of consultants, its culture is entrepreneurial for a simple reason: it works with real entrepreneurs, individuals who have pursued something with an intensity and ambition often at significant cost to their own personal life. To understand more about its approach and ethos, refer to this.

The Company has a simple mandate: enable professionals to deploy their skills as participants and partners in creation of those who have spent a life-time building something of value. The Company aims at no transformative social change nor does it lay claim to any such ability. It strives only for its members to gain joys that come naturally from being in a relationship with like-minded people to solve questions of mutual interest.

 

As a result, it is run as a closely and tightly knit venture, and like any conservatively-run business operation, it happens to be profitable. Any profitable operation must either redistribute the surplus to its owners or reinvest in itself. The distribution of the Company’s own surplus is governed by a formal surplus distribution policy.

 

A public non-profit is, in spirit, owned by the public at large, and hence, a part of the surplus it generates has to contribute directly to a public good. In the Company’s case, the only good it possesses is artisanal (crafts-man-like) management know-how on how to be useful to someone else’s endeavours. Know-how becomes a public good if it is shared with an open-hand with those who seek it earnestly and with sincerity.

 

What we as members of the Company are engaged in is more a vocation than a profession: there are no rule-books, guidelines, or theories to guide our actions. Instead, there are skill-sets, techniques, mind-sets, perspectives and temperament. The know-how is therefore tacit and can be acquired only through association, collegiality, camaraderie and, eventually, partnership, much as an apprentice acquires the craft through shadowing his master.

 

Under this spirit, then this is a call for apprenticeship for individuals who are desirous of making a permanent investment in themselves outside of the formal confines of academia. This apprenticeship is under no obligation to offer anything by way of monetary remuneration except to cover incidental expenses incurred, if any. If case any remuneration is offered it will be strictly nominal. The Company may, however, on a case by case basis, incur expenses, as provided under the Company’s Surplus Distribution Policy, for travel to gain a wider exposure, acquisition of specific technical skills & tools, and any other mechanism of learning & development of value. Therefore, those interested should apply only if they have at least one source of steady income and surplus time at hand, or are driven by an intense desire to stretch themselves.

 

The apprenticeship will demand a minimum commitment of eight hours per week and a tacit agreement to stay with the organisation for a period of two years. The apprentice typically will shadow one or another member and help that member in the discharge of his or her responsibilities which may include routine tasks internal to Company’s own management and client-related. With the passage of time, and conditional on the competence, commitment and intensity of the apprentice, the Company may provide an independent space to that individual to contribute in his or her own way to the overall work. This could take the form of special projects, independent handling of specific pieces of client-assignments, or anything else that might emerge at a given point in time.

 

The apprentice, if he or she takes the role seriously, can expect to acquire a few things: problem-solving know-how related to organisational development, a sense of deep responsibility, keeping things simple and paying close attention to details, and an intuition of how things, including organisations, really get built gradually over time through much of human trial and error. These learnings once acquired are most difficult to lose, and are easily generalisable to almost any kind of role and responsibility. The time that an apprentice shall put in will, therefore, more than be compensated by what he or she takes out.

 

To emphasise, this is not a call for volunteers but for an apprentice. Those who hold some or most of the following traits will benefit most from it:

  1. Life experiences which have shown the applicant what to avoid & not to do at all cost and what to let go easily.

  2. An uncompromising belief in following the straight path: uprightness and a sense of character.

  3. Forbearance to learn through repeatedly failing.

  4. Fortitude to be held to account which involves being called-out for and, even shouted down upon, for stupidity, gross errors, unpardonable negligence, inertia, irrationality, emotionality, sentimentality and false sense of pity & charity

  5. Restlessness to solve real problems of real people in real time and to vehemently renounce unproductive theorisation, intellectualisation, rationalisation, and asking of questions for their own sake.

  6. A pride in acting as an owner-entrepreneur, and not as an employee, sub-ordinate or a dependent. This clearly means the applicant should, after a point, not expect to be instructed; instead with minimal talk sense what matters because she has learnt to care as an owner for that which she is a part of.

           

Those who are interested should email a word document (not more than 3 pages) describing who they are and why they wish to apply (no CV type formatting and minimal use of bullet points). The applicant should clearly mention the name, age, gender, and present location. The application will go through a two-step process: a first round of elimination evaluated on simplicity (can a layman understand your message), directness (how much do you know yourself) and conviction (are you really real) that reveals itself from the write-up; and a second round of selection based on conversations with multiple members.

 

The selection process will be partial to female applicants (why: gender-tilting client-portfolio and diversification away from an all-male team) and those who come from analytical disciplines. However, these are preferences and not criteria. Your application will not be silently ignored. If it is rejected, you will be informed by a brief written email. We may not be in a position to provide feedback in every case. The email to send the write-up to is prateesh@sosynergy.org.