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Make the Best of your Apprenticeship

10 Ways to make the best out of your apprenticeship

1. Attitude

Attitude is a huge factor in employment. Remember you’re not just working for your boss, but your co-workers may be just the people who land you work in the future. Being a good worker has so much to do with your attitude.

Enthusiasm for a job doesn’t go unnoticed, and when you’re starting out as a new apprentice it’s vital. A positive approach to anything you’re asked to do will help people to remember you. This could lead to your involvement with more exciting new projects or tasks later on.

Life as a new apprentice is a big challenge and there will be a lot to learn, but there will be lots of people along the way to make you feel welcome. There will be days where you’re slogged in high stress environments, and you’ll need to learn to deal with that and how to manage yourself.

Don’t ever be afraid to tell people that you’re an apprentice or feel like you have to pretend to know more than you do. Be proud of being an apprentice – it shows that you have drive, determination and ambition.

If you want to be treated like any other member of the workforce, you need to act like one. It’s good to show you’re playing your part as a member of the team.

It can be very satisfying to have responsibility so early and it’s a great starting point for your career, so get stuck in!

2. Staying Safe

Particularly in the trade-based industries you’re exposed to a lot of hazards and dangerous situations. Some bosses are obsessive about safety protocols and will slow the pace of the job to keep everyone safe and some aren’t so strict, so they can meet a deadline or if they deem the risk to be ok. Ultimately, this is your life. Speak up if you see something dangerous and stay safe (check out WorkSafe for more info)

3. Get to know your work colleagues

This is likely to happen naturally anyway, but you are usually set up with a supervisor or a senior colleague whose job it is to teach you the required skills of the trade and guide you through anything you might be finding difficult in the new role. Your supervisor is a good start but don’t be scared to branch out and make the effort to get to know other in the workplace too. Learning people’s names and what they do helps a lot in building bridges at work

4.Reach out and start a network

Networking is one of the most important skills you’ll ever learn, but what is it exactly? Well, it’s making an effort to make personal connections with people that you meet at work and at trade school. One day, you might need their help – or want to work on a project with them. Also, make sure you find other apprentices in your organisation, as it’s always good to have someone to talk to who is in the same situation as you.

5. All-rounder

It’s expected that you’ll be doing lots of different things including a menial work. For example, as an apprentice farmer, you could be continually cleaning yards or as a welder driving around to pick up materials for jobs.  Most would prefer to just be on the tools all the time, but you soon realise that operating a successful business means there are a lot of other jobs that need to be done no matter how boring. Being an all-rounder helps you get to know the team and get to know the work. Embrace it and make the most of it.

6. Hardest part

The hardest part is dealing with the wages. As an apprentice you’re being paid a training wage which is pretty low. Plus, your boss might want you to buy tools and it takes a while to save up to buy quality tools! There are some discounts and benefits you need to look out for, like cheaper car registration for apprentices

7. Overtime

You might be asked to do overtime starting out as an apprentice. If you agree to work, make sure you check you’re being paid right (apprentices and trainees have overtime pay rates too!) It probably won’t happen a lot but if it does happen you have to get paid for overtime. But sometimes you’ll find that a boss will pay you above the award rate, and your agreement or award might have different rules about overtime. So, it’s good find out what those rules are.

8. Balancing Study

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by neglecting your trade school responsibilities. Your colleagues will often be able to give you a few informal pointers if you’re struggling with some of the concepts you’re learning about – remember, they’re there to help support you.

While you’re at TAFE, you’re being paid to study, so it’s pretty good in that sense. And on top of that, if you’re progressing your boss reimburses your TAFE fees and textbooks – so put your head down so you can pass with flying colours

8. Keep your eyes and ears open

That’s the only way you will ever learn, when you are thinking on your own and asking questions.  You will find that you will earn the respect of your co-workers and boss when you show you’re willing to learn from them.

You can learn a heck of a lot just by observing. How they go about undertaking their job and how do they organise their time?

You might not have to understand everything they talk about or undertake at the time, but they are well worth a watch to pick up tips on good ways (even bad ways!) to work. Better still, if the time is right then be brave and ask them a few questions. Learn from the masters!

9. Ask for help when needed

A new apprentice straight out of school is definitely going to have questions. And that’s okay! It’s key that you don’t get intimidated by the ability of others at work. It’s easy to feel like you’re expected to know what you’re doing as much as people who’ve been there for two, five or even 20 years.

Don’t ever feel stupid about asking for help when you need it: your colleagues won’t expect you to know everything straight away, and you are there to learn all you can about the industry and the company in order to do your job.  Your colleagues will respect you for speaking up and making the effort to understand the job properly.

If you run into problems, make sure you clear up how to solve them with someone promptly – you’ll have a certain degree of responsibility as an apprentice.

Let’s not sugar coat it. An apprenticeship is hard work, but it’ll provide you with skills and a qualification you can build a rewarding and successful career with.

Bonus Tip

Don’t give up

Sometimes, you might be a little overwhelmed with your new responsibilities. Everyone feels like this sometimes, but it’s important that you don’t get demotivated.

Who is the most important person that you have to convince you’re capable of doing an apprenticeship? You.

Six months after starting your apprenticeship, you won’t believe how much you’ve grown and learnt.

“Don’t let the doubts you may have make your decisions for you. You may feel like giving up, but the perfect opportunity is just around the corner and it will be yours to grab.