National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity to shine a light on both the successes and contributions of apprentices, but also to raise awareness of the alternative career paths available. As we draw a close to another successful National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke to our Senior CSR and Early Careers Manager Vicki Palmer on her top tips to finding the right apprenticeship for you.

Finding an apprenticeship:

Do your research
An apprenticeship is a big commitment so make sure you do your research. Firstly, have a think about these questions, can you answer these?

  • What industry do you want to join?
  • What sort of role do you want?
  • What level of study is right for you?

Once you know what apprenticeship you would like to undertake, then do your research on the relevant employers. You spend a lot of time at work, so you want to make sure you are joining the right company. What is the culture there? Do their values align with yours? Will they provide the right experience, guidance and support for you to complete the apprenticeship?

Use things like Glassdoor to see employee reviews of the company. Reviews on Glassdoor are anonymous so employees will be honest about the company they work for on there! If possible, try to gain some experience in the industry you are thinking of entering. Even if this is just a day of shadowing, there is still a lot you can learn from it. Nobody wants to work in a career that they don’t enjoy, take some time to ensure that you will enjoy it.

Applying for an apprenticeship:

Take your time with the application
Make sure that you leave enough time to sit down and complete the application form. If you need to do it over a couple of days, do that too! It’s important to complete your application somewhere with minimal distractions so that you stay focused. Rushed applications that aren’t personalised stand out to employers in a negative way; they give the impression that you aren’t particularly interested in the role.

Stand out from the crowd
There is a lot of competition for apprenticeships, so you want to make sure your application stands out from other candidates. A well written cover letter to accompany your CV is extremely powerful. You can use this to show so much more of yourself than your CV can. Show your passion and enthusiasm for the industry you are trying to enter and why you want to join the apprenticeship programme. Tailor the cover letter to the employer as well; say why you want to work for them, what attracted you to the company/the role.

Work experience
A CV that clearly lists your achievements will make you stand out from other candidates. It doesn’t matter if this isn’t directly related to the apprenticeship you are applying for; most work has transferable skills. Look at what skills are required in the apprenticeship and highlight where you have used these in previous roles or education.

Interviewing for an apprenticeship:

Look your best
It’s always better to be the best dressed person in the room when interviewing! Don’t show up to an interview in what you assume to be acceptable clothing for a particular industry. No matter how relaxed a company might be once you work for them, it’s best to make an effort for the interview. Wear business attire and you can’t really go wrong.

Know your CV
Be clear on what you have listed as your achievements and experience in your CV. Selling yourself can be hard to do, so the best way to prepare for this is to read over your CV and cover letter so you can draw on specific examples of your achievements, interests, and goals. Which brings us onto the next point…

Use examples
There are a lot of transferable skills from your education and any work experience you’ve undertaken so be clear on what these are and make sure you show case them in the interview. Review the job description to see what key skills they are looking for; these are likely to be soft skills like team work, communication, etc rather than industry role specific skills, so you will have examples of where you have demonstrated these previously.

And most importantly of all, be yourself. There’s only one you and that’s who interviewers want to meet!

Starting an apprenticeship:

Don’t be afraid to ask
If you are struggling with something, be it a work or college task, ask. You will have teams of people around you that have been in your shoes and are able to advise or give guidance.

Organise your time
As well as your work commitments, you will have to attend college and complete assignments on time.  Make sure you organise your time appropriately so that you can complete all the work that’s required. Another top tip, make sure you set enough alarms to get to work and college on time!

Know your team
Getting to know the people you are working with will help you to feel part of the team; it will also make asking for help less intimidating.

Watch what’s going on around you
Watch how the other members of staff work, speak to each other and interact with clients.  You can learn a lot by watching and listening to what goes on.

Vicki Palmer

Senior Corporate Social Responsibility & Early Careers Manager

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