Sometimes, it can be a big, jarring step from education to work. What used to be all about learning has now become all about doing, with no halfway house to help you with the transition.
This is why apprenticeships are great. They give you a sound grounding in your prospective career, at the same time as supporting you in your efforts to learn as much as possible.
However, it’s not as simple as just wanting a great apprenticeship. There are loads out there, so how do you decide which is best for you? And how do you beat everyone else going for the same one?
Step 1 - think!
Never a bad idea, this. Take some time to consider your future life. Do you have a favoured career? In which case, how can you see it panning out for you in a couple of decades’ time? Does that look good to you? If so, what steps do you need to take to make it come about?
Alternatively, does it seem a bit unrealistic and, on reflection, not what you should be aiming at? In this case, start thinking about other paths and picture yourself taking them. When you find one that appeals to you, give some thought to ways of getting into that field.
It could be that the career path you’re envisaging is best served by becoming an apprentice. Take car mechanics, for instance. There’s only so much you’ll be able to learn at college before you’re going to need to get your hands dirty under the bonnet.
Same with a lot of other professions. For example, suppose you want to become a communications engineer. You can learn the theory to do with cloud telephone systems, but you can’t beat the practical knowledge you’ll get by becoming a comms apprentice.
One final word on deciding what you want to do. Sometimes it can seem that nothing appeals, and you’re in limbo. How about considering what you’re passionate about? If you’re captivated by your pet dog and would like nothing better than to work with canines all day, get in touch with your local dog shelter to see if they have any information on apprenticeship routes. Or if you like the outdoor life and feel that a day spent not stomping among trees is a day wasted, then contact conservation and forestry organisations for advice on a way into the woods. This leads us to…
Step 2 - ask
Any school or college will have information on hand about apprenticeships and advice on how to apply. Even if you’re not currently in education, contact nearby colleges about what apprenticeships they’re involved with. They’ll be glad to take you through the details.
Try government websites. Both local and central government have information zones and job centres where you can get guidance.
Step 3 – read
When you’ve found an apprenticeship that looks promising, pay special attention to what it requires of you.
Do you have the qualifications necessary? If you need English but don’t have it, consider re-taking English. It’s very useful, to say the least.
Do you have the experience required? If they want office skills, do you know how to use a spreadsheet? Have you used a phone system to perform such practices as call parking?
Do you live close enough? Are you able to provide yourself with the equipment needed? All these are vital questions that you must answer in the affirmative before considering applying.
When you’ve made sure that you satisfy the essentials list, start working on the desirables. These can be as stated in the spec or perhaps some elements you’ve thought up. In any case, the name of the game is to stand out from your competitors, so use your imagination.
For instance, voluntary work can score huge with apprenticeship panels. It shows that you’re not afraid to get stuck in, you’re not all about the money, and it highlights that you’ll have some practical awareness going in. Never a bad thing.
Step 4 - apply
Check when your chosen organisation is taking applications. Ensure you’ve got an up-to-date application form. If you’re uncertain about any aspect of it, get in touch with the organisation for clarification. Don’t be shy about this. They’ll welcome your wish to clarify.
Be careful with what you put in. You might be asked to give more detail about anything you enter onto the form, so make sure you’re not straying from the truth at any point. And keep your application focused on the subject. Any chance you get, mention how what you’ve done has prepared you well for this apprenticeship.
Finally, you can never be too grammatically correct. So, consider whatever grammar check gear you can get your hands on.
Remember that different formats need different expression styles. An application like this is a formal document, so sober tones and spelling things out in full are the order of the day. It’s not like the kind of casual shorthand that can be common in chat etiquette, for instance.
Apprenticeships can be an excellent launchpad into permanent work, but they won’t just fall into your lap. They’re hot property right now, so the competition’s fierce. But don’t panic. Take some time to find the right one, then set about making yourself the obvious choice–best of luck!
Tanhaz Kamaly - Partnership Executive, UK, Dialpad UK
Tanhaz Kamaly is a Partnership Executive at Dialpad, a modern cloud-hosted business communications platform with Voice over IP features that turns conversations into the best opportunities, both for businesses and clients. He is well-versed and passionate about helping companies work in constantly evolving contexts, anywhere, anytime. Tanhaz has also written for other domains such as Track-POD and Cybersecurity Insiders. Check out his LinkedIn profile.