7 ways to make a good impression during an apprenticeship

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This week it’s National Apprenticeship Week and, to increase the prospects of being offered a full-time position after your apprenticeship, here are some proven tools to make a good impression and get ahead of your competition.

1. Decide you want to do it

Apprenticeships offer the chance to train and work at the same time, giving you a solid base for your career. Research by Kaplan shows that 77 per cent of bosses believe an apprenticeship allows you to gain skills that can only be learnt in a working environment.

That said, your heart must be in it. Before even starting an apprenticeship, find out if it’s really for you, so you do not waste your own or your employer’s time. Accountancy apprenticeships are challenging but also rewarding: employees in their first job after an apprenticeship earn nearly £4,000 a year more than university graduates.

AAT research shows that those who progress on to study a higher-level apprenticeship have increased earnings of around £150,000 over a lifetime.

“You need to decide that you definitely want to do it, especially in accountancy,”  explains Jessica Cross, an auditor-accountant who completed an AAT higher level 4 apprenticeship last September. “You need to be committed, but any apprenticeship is worth doing because you gain experience on the job, as well as qualifications.”

2. Be proactive

It pays to prepare. Find out about the company before you start your apprenticeship so you can hit the ground running. “Do your research,” advises James Sloane, who has AAT qualifications at levels 2, 3 and 4 and is now studying ACCA. “Don’t think it’s all about maths, because you learn a lot of other new skills, too.”

Once you’ve been offered your apprenticeship, email the company to ask whether there’s anything you can look up and learn before you start – that will show them you’re a go-getter and eager for the job.

3. Turn up on time

This should go without saying, but make sure you turn up on time to the job. Not just the first day – every day. An apprenticeship is an opportunity for you to learn, but also to lay the groundwork for the rest of your career. Impress your bosses by showing you have discipline and a good work ethos.

“This sounds basic, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that beginning work at 9am means coffee, a chat and work at 9.30am,” says David Allison, the boss at getmyfirstjob.co.uk. “Even if others do it, set your own standards and stick to them.”

4. Dress appropriately

Another easy win to make a good impression during your apprenticeship. Always dress appropriately for your job – and remember that it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed. If in doubt over whether you should wear a tie, wear one. You can always take it off if you need to.

5. Be committed

Commitment is key and will pay off in the long run. This goes hand in hand with motivation, which employers love to see, particularly in apprentices. The government’s Apprenticeships.org site will get you in the right spirit, and this new Apprenticeships app is a cool tool and conversation-starter.

“If apprentices have the skills and drive, they can make anything happen,” says Leisa Docherty, HR director at FTSE100 accounting software firm Sage UK. “Apprentices, like employers, get out what they put in, so demonstrate your loyalty, skills and proactivity and show that you’ll be a long-term credit to the business.”

6. Say “yes” when you can

If opportunities crop up for additional work or projects, consider volunteering yourself (time permitting, of course – don’t overstretch yourself either).

“Grabbing opportunities with both hands makes a great impression,” says Lawrence Jones, founder and CEO of UKFast, which launched its apprenticeship scheme in 2013. “Richard Branson once told me that if you say yes to new opportunities when they present themselves, you’ll have a much more interesting life. While you might feel nervous in the early days of your apprenticeship, it’s important to believe in your abilities. Even if you’ve not done something before, don’t shy away.”

Once your boss sees that you’re prepared to do more, they’ll invest more time in you.

7. Take responsibility

An apprenticeship offers you the chance to learn and gain qualifications, but you also need to take responsibility for your own learning within the apprenticeship.

“Great apprentices will make sure that they know exactly what is needed to complete their qualification and will chase up their assessor to make sure they complete the programme on time,” says getmyfirstjob.co.uk’s Allison.


Jason Hesse is a journalist who specialises in writing about entrepreneurship and small business.

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