Many boys in the machine shop lose their opportunities of becoming skilled mechanics through waiting for a better job, just as men die waiting for something to turn up. There is no job to begin to do good work on like the one in hand, and no mistake greater than supposing that the very best mechanical skill cannot be shown on what would be called a very ordinary piece of work.
Nothing is more common than to hear complaints from apprentices that they don’t get an opportunity to learn the trade at which they are working, but generally speaking no one gets the opportunity; he makes it. There is no conspiracy to keep any one out of the position he ought to fill, but he must get into that position by his own exertions.
If a boy demonstrates that he is capable of doing a simple job of work better than anyone else, he is morally certain to get tried on a better one, if there is a better one. If he fails to do the present job right because there isn’t scope enough for his ambition, he makes it appear that it would be unsafe to trust him with better work. There is no other sure road to advancement than through present duties well performed.
American Machinist – November 10, 1883