Our 5 key pieces of advice to future apprentices
As part of our National Apprenticeship Week 2023 celebrations, we highlighted the voice of the apprentice during a special edition live show in partnership with FE News.
Our ‘#FutureOfApprenticeships: The Apprentice Takeover’ show saw NCFE’s own Accreditation Apprentice, John Joe Tams, successfully take on the role of co-host, as he put insightful questions to guest speakers to discuss all things apprenticeships.
Two of these guests were Umayr Tanveer, Software Engineering Apprentice at BT, and Sofia Bunce, Marketing Apprentice at Home Group, who outlined their personal experiences in their current roles, as well as sharing advice they’d offer to future apprentices.
So, if you're currently considering an apprenticeship, then you’re in the right place! Read on to discover the advice that three current apprentices – John Joe, Umayr and Sofia – would like to share with you ahead of your exciting new journey.
1. Consider your learning style
If you've decided that an apprenticeship might be the best fit for you, then that's a great start. Yet, unlike the university route – which is often presented as a much clearer process – the process of discovering and getting onto an apprenticeship can vary and depend on the employer and provider.
On this point, John Joe says that weighing up the pros and cons of specific apprenticeships is a really important step in your early research. John Joe advises: “Consider the learning style of the specific apprenticeship that you’re applying for – for example, is the learning 1-to-1? Is it virtual, or will you be expected to attend a college? If so, which one and does this suit your needs?”
Often, school leavers pay less consideration to the learning style of the qualification, as the focus is the job role itself – but this could end up having a detrimental effect on your success. “Definitely try to get an apprenticeship where both the job role and the learning style of the college suits you,” says John Joe.
2. Research your employer
"Whenever you're applying for an apprenticeship through a given company, always make the effort to research the company and the activities that they engage in,” advises Umayr. It's vital that you understand the employer so that you can assess the ways in which you'll be a good match for that company, but also, the ways in which they’ll be a good fit for you – it has to work both ways!
“It's really important that you enjoy your job and that you work for an employer that matches your values and the things that mean a lot to you [in the workplace],” says Umayr.
Both Sofia and John Joe agreed, suggesting that finding an employer that’s just as committed to your development as you are, is critical. John Joe explained how finding an organisation which is highly reputable helps you to know that your interests will be looked after and that they’ll be invested in you throughout.
“It is through these qualities that opportunities for growth and development come up, which allows you to get involved in new and exciting opportunities, as well as push your comfort zone and develop professionally as much as possible whilst you are on your apprenticeship,” he explains.
If you do decide that you’re a good fit for this employer, then this research that you’ve undertaken won't go to waste – as you can discuss this when you get to the interview stage. As Umayr suggests, this “will really show that you're passionate and you've gone above and beyond”. Speaking of which...
3. Practice your interview skills
Next comes the interview stage, where you’ll have the opportunity to land your dream apprenticeship. This, advises Umayr, is a step that it's never too early to begin preparing for.
“If you're leaving school straight away, interviews can be quite intimidating and that's totally fine,” says Umayr. “In fact, you may have never done an interview in your life, so it's important that you practice – whether that's with a friend, a family member, or even a teacher at school.”
By taking part in a mock interview with someone that you trust, you can get a feel for how interviews work and feel, and this can help to build your confidence by the time you get to the real thing.
Looking for more information on this topic? This webpage by UCAS provides further information on how to prepare for an apprenticeship interview, and this webpage by the Government provides further clarity on the interview process itself.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Whether this is during the interview process or once you get started on the apprenticeship itself – don’t be afraid to ask questions, advises Sofia. “Nothing is a silly question and it’s likely that someone else is going to have that same question,” she explains – so don’t be shy about asking for help or an explanation.
By querying processes or actions, you’re demonstrating a willingness to learn and understand new things – and your employer will see this as a real positive, rather than a negative. In fact, this recent article by Forbes outlines how asking questions at work increases our emotional intelligence, which can lead to “better soft skills [which are] key in leadership at work and interpersonal relationship building”.
Asking questions is definitely a good thing!
5. Have confidence in yourself!
Finally, making such a big decision about the next phase of your learning journey can feel daunting – so if you’ve chosen to take on an apprenticeship, then Umayr urges you to congratulate yourself!
“It’s a really fantastic route to go down, and I totally understand that it can be a brave decision sometimes for many – so absolutely well done for deciding to go down the apprenticeship route,” he says.
Once you get started on your apprenticeship, remember to always have belief and confidence in your own abilities – after all, your employer chose you for the role as they felt you could bring unique perspective, knowledge and understanding to it.
Sofia adds: “Have confidence in yourself! You’re not “just” an apprentice and it’s not “just” an apprenticeship. You’re a huge asset to the organisation and they’re lucky to have you!”
To find out more about becoming an apprentice, visit our helpful webpage. You can also watch our Apprentice Takeover live show in full below to hear more from John Joe, Umayr and Sofia.
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