How to Make the Most of Your Apprenticeship
As a school-leaver or recent graduate, the job market can feel like a dark and scary place, especially in today's uncertain climate. However, there are many ways you can get your foot in the door career-wise, no matter your experience or education. Apprenticeships are a particularly great way to receive on-the-job training in your field of interest – regardless of what you studied (or if you even studied at all!) Better yet, apprenticeships can be found across almost all sectors, including customer service, health and social care, hospitality, IT, dental nursing, financial services, and many more. They provide the relevant experience required by most employers, not to mention the opportunity to work alongside experienced staff, gain skills specific to the job, and study towards a related qualification.
Below are some of our top tips on how to make the most of your time as an apprentice.
- Apprenticeships are typically available at intermediate, advanced, and higher degree level, covering more than 170 industries and 1,500 job roles. As such, you should first decide what kind of qualification you’re after and what area you’re interested in, and then choose the programme most suited to you.
- Remember to take advantage of the careers department at your school, college or university – they’ll often have leads on apprenticeships in your area.
- In line with the above, take advantage of jobs/career fairs in order to see what opportunities are out there, and to get a lead on any graduate schemes or apprenticeships currently on offer.
- Realise that most apprenticeships start at a low wage. The apprentice minimum wage of £4.15 applies to all 16-18 year olds and those who are 19 or older in the first year of their apprenticeship. If you're 19 or over and have completed the first year of your current apprenticeship, you're entitled to the minimum wage for your age. Bear in mind that your salary is likely to increase come the end of the programme, when you begin to climb up the echelons of the company. Remember, even if the financial gain isn’t great at first, it’s still a viable alternative to university and unpaid internships.
- Try to schedule regular meetings with your manager or supervisor; this shows that you’re enthusiastic about your role and eager to learn. It’s also to your benefit, as they’ll likely provide meaningful insight into the day-to-day operations of the company, as well as provide advice as to what you can build on and where you can improve.
- Make an effort to grow your internal profile – volunteer where possible, make sure to speak to your advisor and colleagues when appropriate, and get to know the staff.
- Try to network and gain as much exposure through your apprenticeship as possible – go to meetings, training events – all that good stuff.
- Don’t miss out on the opportunity to prove yourself outside the scope of your apprenticeship – this gives you the chance to learn more about the industry itself, as opposed to just one function of it.
- Try to find a mentor within the company who will help foster growth and connect you with other key players.
- Set goals for what you want to learn and what skills you want to grow. Know what you want to accomplish and where you want your apprenticeship to take you.
- Don’t burn any bridges – this can come back to haunt you, especially if you’ll be working in a niche field.
- After your apprenticeship, be sure to keep in touch with your colleagues so as to cultivate a large professional network.
- Make sure you leave your apprenticeship with new skills, a better understanding of your field, and tangible accomplishments.
Feel like you’re ready to become an apprentice? There are a number of online resources available, including the National Apprenticeship Service, Not Going to Uni, City and Guilds, QA, learndirect, and finally, our graduate and apprenticeships hub page here.