Making the most of your apprenticeship

11 top tips to survive your apprenticeship: written by Essentia apprentices

 
Essentia apprentices
Some of our apprentices - Aaron Josiah, Yusuf Aouane, Samantha King and David Lammas.

During our apprenticeships with Essentia – the department responsible for our capital, estates, facilities and IT services at the Trust – we’ve picked up some useful tips that you usually only learn from being on the job.

That’s why we decided to write this guide for anyone who is thinking about an apprenticeship, either for themselves, a friend or a family member.

1. Keep an open mind

A few of us had clear ideas about what types of apprenticeships we wanted – and an even clearer idea of what we didn’t want. However, be prepared to change your mind, like Kasey has:

"I never thought I would enjoy working in hospital transport, but it’s interesting seeing what goes on behind the scenes and learning about all of the other non-clinical jobs that are available here. Moving between different departments has helped me to decide what kind of career path I would like to take."
Kasey Wheeler, transport apprentice

2. Ask questions

Don’t worry about asking any question – though beware if a colleague asks you to find a ‘long weight’! Seriously though, we wouldn’t know half as much without asking as many questions as we do – so don’t hold back.

3. Research the apprenticeships available before you start

Apprenticeships aren’t just in trades like mechanics and carpentry anymore. In Essentia you can enrol for apprenticeships in project management, business administration, facilities management in healthcare, hotel services in healthcare or transport in health care. Think about your natural talents, and see which roles they most comfortably fall into.

4. Try as many new things as you can

So you’re open-minded, and you’ve researched the different roles - what about if you still don’t know what you want to do? Don’t worry; you should get the opportunity to try quite a few roles before choosing which one you prefer, like Aaron did:

"I was interested in business administration, but I was unsure if that was the right area for me. After meeting the managers, the transport department really caught my attention – there are so many directions you can take your career in."
Aaron Josiah, transport apprentice

5. Strike a balance between college and work

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by neglecting your studying 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.

6. Be 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. 

7. 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.

“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.”  
Laura Bennett, transport apprentice

8. 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. 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.

9. ‘Run your own race'

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. Go at the right pace for you. Sometimes you’re going to make mistakes – and that’s ok.

“If you get something wrong while carrying out a certain task, don't give up! Ask a colleague, your supervisor, or your manager for help so you know how to do it right next time.”
David Lammas, accommodation liaison officer

10. Punctuality

We think this one is obvious, but people still get it wrong. Set two snooze alarms on your phone. 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.

11. Listen to advice

You’ll have the opportunity to meet colleagues who are already on their journey up the career ladder – they can be a great source of advice and information.

“Always take on board the advice you are given. I am lucky enough to have two mentors within the Trust who have taught me a huge amount and are always willing to offer me great advice. This has greatly boosted my confidence and ability in my work."
Samantha King, workforce apprentice

And one bonus tip...

Confidence – believe in yourself

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. So, what are you waiting for?

Find out more about healthcare apprenticeships on the National Skills Academy for Health website.