In her regular blog, Pearson Marketing apprentice Lauren Smithers talks about her apprenticeship experience. This week she reflects on what she has learned so far and gives advice to other apprentices on how to manage those crucial first months on the job.
I have learnt from my short time of being an apprentice that the best way forward is to plan ahead. The busy days will seem less daunting if you know exactly what you’ve got to do and when you’ve got to do it by. One of my training sessions has been on time management and all the different tools you can use (trello, todoist, calendar, reminder etc…) however, I have found the thing that works for me is a good old paper and pen.
My days can get seriously hectic and because I’m new, I don’t want to lose track of anything that may cause problems down the line. I have an overall list of everything I am currently working on and then in the morning, I write my today’s to-do list and work from that. It is all about prioritisation and remembering you can’t keep everybody happy. You need to make sure you’re doing work relevant to your job role and that you’re doing it well and if this means saying no to a few people then so be it.
Don’t be afraid to just ask. It’s been said before, but there is no such thing as a silly question. If you are confused by something or clueless of what to do next, all you have to do is mention it to somebody. They aren’t monsters, they know you are an apprentice and have minimal or next to no experience, you’ll need help and they get that. No one can read your mind if you’re struggling just say.
If you’re lucky, like myself, you’ll have a support network around you that encourage you to tell if you’ve got too much going on and can’t keep on top of it. Nobody wants to see you fail, you’re there to succeed and your team will do what they can to help you along this journey so don’t be afraid to just say “I don’t understand, can you please go through this with me again?”. Better to say it at the beginning than at the end when times-up and you’ve not been able to deliver.
You’re not going to pick everything up over-night, but there’s no harm in helping yourself that little bit more. Every apprenticeship has a 20% off-the-job element to it and it’s put in place to help you, not to keep you away from your work or make life hard when you are busy. You don’t have to take a day of a week. You could do a week a month or mix and match, it doesn’t matter when as long as you take it and evidence that you have (evidence being off-the-job tasks: essays, a project, shadowing another department).
Studying is not always sitting there and reading. You can do other things, funner things. Shadow another line-manager, go to work events, work on your portfolio or you could just research different elements of your job. There are many different options and I’m sure, if you can’t think of any, your line-manager or training provider can assist you.
Meet new people
Meeting people is easy for some and hard for others. I'm quite shy and fortunately my closest family and friends are all outgoing so they start the spark with conversations in the outside world. However, at work I’m by myself and being in such a big company, it’s helpful to know people. So gradually I’m meeting people and making friends. You don’t have to rush into anything, do it in your own time. But I guarantee you that if you catch someone (when they aren’t super busy) and ask them about something other than work, they’ll talk your ear off. Just ask your team or a stranger what they are up to that weekend or what they are having for lunch. Oh and make sure you try and take your lunch away from your desk or station. You’re still an apprentice, eating lunch at your desk can wait until you’re qualified and every thing you do is urgent and meetings are back-to-back.
There’s plenty of other things I could advise you on but I’m still figuring it all out myself! Just make sure you are learning and you are in the role you want to be in. And .... enjoy the experience.
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