Sweep the Floor

In the craft tradition, newcomers start as apprentices to a master craftsman. They start by contributing to the simpler tasks, and as they learn and become more skilled, they slowly graduate to larger, more complex tasks.

—Pete McBreen

Sweep the floor pattern shows that an apprentice can work very closely with experienced professional people of any industry, but they cannot be equal with them since the first day they start working on the company. First contributions to the company by an apprentice are usually small and simple tasks, because the team you are part of, doesn’t know where you fit better, nor do you. As bad as this may sound, “sweeping the floor” is a very good start, because you show to your superiors that you can do small things with high quality, and in the future, you can do greater things with the same quality.

What got my attention is Paul’s experience in a software company. He was aware that he couldn’t write code at a certain time, so he accepted to contribute to the company differently, by even sweeping the floor for real. He was only 17 when he first started, but slowly he started doing more technical assignments, like updating the content of the website or working on the backup. These tasks helped him a lot to gain the trust of the team. Since he was able to do the small tasks right, later Paul would be the same passionate person to do something huge in the company. But let’s not forget that it doesn’t matter how small or big your assignment is if you do something with passion and get the best out of it. As it says on the pattern: If no one sweeps the floor, then the glamorous work can’t be done because the team is hip-deep in the dirt. Every role is important, and no one should be ashamed of their job!

In my opinion, being an apprentice is very useful after you graduate. Courses you have taken during college, will not be everything you will need when you become an apprentice. Being able to start from the dirt, will help you understand step by step how things work in the company. Not everybody is ready to start from the dirt though, especially people who have some experience in the field. However, depending on your commitment to learning everything, in the future, you might be able to do great things on your own. As a conclusion, take the opportunity to Sweep the Floor, and make sure you prove to yourself and to the team that you’re worth doing something greater every day.

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