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Advice for Apprentices
July 29, 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced that businesses will be incentivised with up to £2,000 per apprentice hired between August 2020 and January 2021. I feel this only highlights the sheer importance of why businesses should make use of this opportunity by investing in apprenticeships and apprentices. This is a great time for me to pass on some advice having been an apprentice myself.
Being an apprentice isn’t a walk in the park. Not only are you adjusting to a completely new environment, learning new names, faces, business processes – you are also studying and applying new learnings into your day-to-day job. This can become incredibly overwhelming and adding another twist – the likelihood that your family and friends may not even understand what you’re doing – it’s easy to feel as though the weight of the world is sat firmly on your shoulders. Here are five tips that helped me to alleviate some of the stress and concerns I had during my time as an apprentice:
If you’re like most people and have difficulties managing your workload, I highly recommend creating a running to-do list on your mobile or laptop notes. Doing this will allow you to have oversight of your week ahead and to keep a log of what you’ve worked on that week in general. As well as keeping notes on your device, I’d suggest creating a written to-do list on a piece of paper - detailing your tasks for the day. There’s nothing more satisfying than launching that piece of paper in the bin at the end of your day - which will hopefully add to you feeling good about yourself as a whole.
An apprenticeship can be overwhelming. Accepting that you might not have all of the answers and could use a helping hand will allow you to gain knowledge from those around you as well as widening your overall perspective. Be as clear as possible about what you need help with (e.g. wording an email, how to approach a particular task or situation in general). This helps you to get the answers you need while creating credibility and trust amongst your colleagues by valuing their time.
I would recommend brainstorming at least three topics prior to approaching someone so that you can utilise that time effectively.
Hold yourself accountable
The biggest learning curve for me was discovering how to truly hold myself accountable. The transition from a school environment directly into a corporate environment meant that I had to quickly adjust to falling over hurdles and getting right back up. It’s absolutely normal to make mistakes and there is very little room for growth in our comfort zones. It’s up to us to reach out to the right people that can support our growth and development. To put it bluntly, these individuals will not scoop you up and save you – it’s critical to take full ownership of your development and make the right moves to help you get the support you need.
I had to accept that not everyone will be willing to guide you (usually due to lack of time which is understandable). So, by thinking about what you actually need help with in advance, the chances of receiving support will increase. At times, you will have to use your intuition and – while following best practices – find a way of working that suits you.
Acknowledge your efforts
Working with people who are at the top of their game can easily make you feel like an underachiever – and that’s totally normal. You have to recognise that the awesome colleague of yours had to start from scratch and build themselves brick-by-brick to be where they are today. Although you may be far from where you want to be, I can only encourage you to take at least 20-30 minutes a week (minimum) to give yourself time to acknowledge your efforts. It’s not easy walking on the road less traveled and, as cliche as it may sound, as long as you know that you are trying your hardest, please try not to be so hard on yourself. Appreciating the small accomplishments will only encourage you to want to take bigger strides – when you feel comfortable doing so – which leads me to my final tip...
Enjoy the journey
Drop your shoulders, release the tightness around your jaw and take a deep breath. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and although sometimes as apprentices we have to transition from Mo Farah to Usain Bolt, it’s all part of the process. Without gradually coming out of your comfort zone it’s quite easy for us to limit ourselves and how much we can learn and be exposed to in the workplace. I recently saw a quote that said “Be brave enough to suck at something new”. A lot of the concerns I had whilst starting out are the same things I eventually loved once I got the hang of it. I won’t bombard you with cheesy quotes as I have far too many to choose from but what I can say is that life is exactly what you make it and we shouldn’t be the ones to get in the way of our own growth.
Enjoy the journey and give it your best shot!
If you feel this post could be of use to anyone you know please feel free to share this on – I’m very open to questions and feedback, so don’t hesitate to pop me a message with your thoughts. Have a lovely week.