One of the benefits of doing an apprenticeship is that you get the opportunity to work a job and earn some money whilst qualifying. However, this means you will be trying to balance a full-time job and your studies. This can be a struggle if you don’t balance your time efficiently.
As part of your apprenticeship, you will be entitled to 20% of your contracted hours that your employer has to give you to facilitate your studies. This doesn’t all have to be taken at once, it can be spread out, but it is up to you as the apprentice to navigate this as you please. Some people prefer to take it in one sitting, such as dedicating a whole day to studying if you work 5 days a week, or it could be spread out into a couple of hours a day.
Here are some tips, tools, and techniques you can use to balance your work and study time effectively.
1 – Utilise your Calendar
Make sure your time is planned effectively, there is nothing worse than being plunged into a meeting you were unaware you had to be in just as you were going to sit down and do some studying. The easy way to ensure this happens as little as possible is to make use of your calendar. I plan out every spare minute of every day, including breaks, this allows me to plan in time for me to study uninterrupted. This allows me to focus on my work when I should be working and fully focus on my studies during my scheduled study time.
Make sure you have a plan of what you are going to achieve in that study time, and how long it is going to take you and try to stick to that. That way you have a target to achieve, and a time limit. This means you know when to stop and means that your valuable time is split fairly between the two aspects of your role as an apprentice
2 – Don’t be afraid to ask for support
As part of your apprenticeship, you will have been assigned many different people in many different roles that are there to support you, this could be your university tutors, your line manager, a workplace buddy, and many others. These people are here to offer support to you as you attempt to work a full-time job and study at the same time. They will be able to monitor your progress, whether it’s in your job or your studies and help you create a healthy and efficient work-study balance.
Your college or university will be looking at how much time you are spending on your studies and you will have to track this time, however, they may not be looking at this every week and more likely every month. This means you do not have to stress about having a very accurate log of your weekly training hours, but you can update this as you go and submit it monthly.
3 – Make use of the resources available to you.
There are lots of options that you can use and put towards your OTJH (Off The Job Hours). These can be individual study time, mentoring time with a more senior colleague, shadowing meetings and professional conversations, preparation and execution of university and college projects etc. In my opinion, the most useful of these to you as an apprentice is shadowing and professional conversations, who better to learn from than somebody who has experience working in the same industry and sector as you? You will be part of some of the most interesting and insightful conversations that will give you a great experience and will provide a great reference point when completing coursework. One thing to remember is that as an apprentice, you are adding great value to your organisation, you are adding a fresh new perspective, giving members of your organisation the opportunity to act as mentors, and as the company is investing in your future, you are much more likely to have loyalty to the company in the long run. This means members of your time are not just going to agree to support you with your apprenticeship, but are more likely going to be encouraging it. So, take them up on it if it fits in with your calendar, what harm can it be?
Finally, one thing to remember is that doing an apprenticeship is very difficult, it is okay to struggle, but you have lots of different contacts available to you when you need some support. It is okay to ask for help from these people, nobody expects you to get through it without struggling.