Jami and Ed tell us what it’s like in the first few months of their apprenticeships at Rambutan, and a few behind the scene glimpses.
1. Half the time we listen to your business talk… then Google it later. Even the word jargon is jargon if you’ve never worked or studied business before. Before we started working in an organisation, a Chief Executive, Manager, VP or a Director was just a ‘boss’. Although, you’d be surprised we do know some pretty smart words too. Granted, half of them are utterly useless, for example floccinaucinihilipilification.
2. We like being accountable for the tasks we do regularly and consistently. There are some things that only we do here, e.g. planning and updating social media and producing finance reports. After a couple of weeks, they become familiar tasks that we’re completely confident doing. It’s helpful when an employer recognises that and leaves the accountability for the task to us. Here at Rambutan we have a graph with various responsibilities that someone needs to ‘hold the A’ for, A standing for accountability, and both our names are on that graph. It means that we’re not just helping out or actioning tasks that other people don’t have the time to do.
3. Dress codes make us nervous. As teenagers, we don’t generally own anything that is classed as ‘smart casual’. What we wore to our interview was most likely the only ‘businessy’ outfit we own. At Rambutan it’s easier with a more relaxed dress code. Just in case, our first wages did go towards work-appropriate clothing.
4. We have lots of ideas – use them! We have a new perspective. We asked a few people here what was unique about having an apprentice at Rambutan and this was what stood out the most. Young people are great at brainstorming how to make things look cooler, feel easier and work quicker. Giving us opportunities to do this and to voice it is a win/win situation. We may make the task a little bit smoother, and it’ll give us a chance to contribute our own thoughts. The new perspective we bring may also lead to refreshing thoughts about other topics like the future, society and work/life balance, for example.
5. We may have done similar hours at college as we do now, but… This might (not) come as a shock, but we didn’t spend 8 hours a day at college working. Lessons are usually 50 minutes long and sometimes that’s a stretch. Even after we’d settled in to our apprenticeships, it still felt like a great achievement when we realised we’ve been working all day. It helps that apprenticeships feel a lot more worthwhile than learning about the civil war or chemical compositions. But if these topics ever arise at Treetops we will be the first to know the answer!
6. IT is a way of life. For some people, updating their LinkedIn profile or reviewing how they store their work files online is something that needs to have a scheduled date and time, just so it gets done. However, having grown up with technology and spending a lot of time on computers, we often do these things automatically and have a natural intuition with Microsoft Office. At Treetops, we tend to be the first port of call for any IT related issues. We like to think we can solve anything.
7. Think of us as a blank canvas. Rambutan has given us our first apprenticeship, and our first time experiencing being part of an organisation. On top of that, we’re young and eager to learn. If you’ve ever tried to teach an ‘old dog new tricks’, you’ll know that while previous experience can sometimes be an asset, it’s almost always easier to teach someone with a fresh perspective.
8. It’s important to feel part of the company. This means having your profile with everyone else’s on the company website, being included in meetings, having your opinion valued and knowing your job is important. That’s the difference between telling people we’re doing an apprenticeship and telling people we work at Rambutan. Apprenticeships are great and there are benefits to being an apprentice, but we also want to feel like we’ve got a job the same way other employees do. Most importantly, we want to know we’re making a difference and doing some good. Having people who show appreciation for the job we do is super helpful with feeling part of the team.
9. This is the best chance we have of developing a good CV. Part of the apprenticeship framework is that there needs to be 20% off-the-job training. This can be anything that isn’t included in your role, such as shadowing, observing client sessions, attending conferences and events, and mentoring. One of the advantages to being in an apprenticeship is that we are required to do off-the-job training, whereas in a normal job (i.e. not an apprenticeship) this isn’t required. Therefore, this is the best opportunity for us to update our CVs with as much experience as possible.
10. We definitely have inside jokes about work. These are the things that we need to relate to each other on, because it would probably sound weird to anyone else we work with. Our out of work friends don’t get it either, so our fellow apprentices are the only people we can joke about work with! Like how ridiculous it sounds when you compare your email speak to how you usually speak. Or how people often talk to software like Excel as if it’s a real person. (The jokes evolve as you begin to do the same thing…)
The main thing you should know about apprentices is that we love what we do, and if we didn’t we wouldn’t still be here! It’s the perfect way to start your career with all the support you can get, and a much more enjoyable way of achieving a qualification than higher education.