BCE's Digital Marketing Apprentice, Alex Parchment, muses on things he wishes he knew when he first started his apprenticeship.by
I’ve strangely done two placements as I come up to the halfway mark of my year-long apprenticeship and I’m actually really glad I’ve had that experience. After switching from social media management at a music events company, to undertaking market research and writing content at Big Creative Education's own campus, I’ve realised that there are skills that you naturally filter out when working in a new environment. For example when I started working at BCE, I transferred ‘soft skills’ like time management but left out some of the software skills I had taught myself at the music events company.
Having said that, here there are five things I believe everyone should keep in mind when starting a new role, regardless of the sector:
1. Don’t expect too much of yourself
You’re an apprentice, not a Managing Director in charge of multiple facets of a business, so go slowly. Don’t put yourself under stressful pressure and expect to be able to understand every single aspect of the role when you first start out. They’ll be areas that you, nor your boss, will expect you to understand and you’ll do yourself a huge favour by being patient.
2. Work, work, work, work, work, work
You should immerse yourself in the responsibilities that you are given. Don’t just complete the work, but ask your boss if they can spare five minutes to review it with you. Be insatiably inquisitive. The whole point of an apprenticeship is that you learn, not just complete day-to-day tasks at your placement.
3. Soft skills really strengthen your employer’s belief in hiring you
By soft skills, I mean professional etiquette. Things such as writing a formal email, having a polite telephone manner and letting work know when and why you’re going to be late before you get there. All this silently assures the rest of your team, because it means they won’t have to take time out of their already hectic schedule to teach you the basics.
4. You will get thrown into the deep end at some point
Eventually, you’ll be assigned a task that seems gargantuan and impossible. Embrace the opportunity! Your employer wouldn’t ask you to do something they didn’t believe you could do. Always ask your boss for help; they’ll admire your willingness to problem-solve. Don’t stop asking until you feel comfortable enough to at least make a start. I’ve discovered that it’s much better to work this way, rather than hastily say “yes!” when initially assigned a task and then waste hours trying to understand it, when you could’ve just asked in the first place.
5. If you have other interests, apply them to the workplace
Although a work environment is primarily productive, it needs distinct characters in order for it to be a fun, as well as a productive environment. You should let your personality shine through (although make sure it doesn’t clash with your professionalism!). If you’re struggling, you could start by just mentioning what music, books, TV shows or films etc. you like. You could even extend this to expressing an interest in your colleagues job roles as well. For example if you have an interest in computer coding, ask a programmer what they’re working on and if you could shadow them for a few hours (provided that your line manager is ok with it). As I’ve mentioned before, an apprenticeship is a learning experience and you should make the most of every element that makes it up.