Having now finished my BA Business Management degree, I've had some time to reflect on the last three years as a rotational degree apprentice with Pearson College London and have compiled some top tips that I would go back and tell my 1st year self if I could!
1. Don’t expect to ‘get it’ within the first week
Starting a new job can be daunting, especially if it is your first professional job or you haven't have much previous experience in the area. However, be confident in your abilities; if you earned a place on the scheme then you are certainly capable of the role. No matter what level someone is, from Junior to Director, no one learns everything within the first week so don’t expect to either! Take notes on everything and don’t be afraid to ask questions. As the weeks go by, you will pick up more and more, and dependent on the role, it could take a month or even five to feel fully up to speed on your role!
2. Set Expectations
Degree Apprenticeships are a confusing concept and some of your colleagues may not fully understand your scheme and the requirements you have both from the workplace and university. Make sure to explain the scheme to your team as early as possible so that they understand that you’re studying too and don’t expect you to stay till 8pm to finish a project every evening! I’ve always found doing this has made my team more supportive (such as telling me to go home if I do stay late!)
Attend the social events with colleagues, offer others a cup of tea, or ask how their weekend was. Speaking to new people can be daunting, but each conversation will help to build your network which will be a really valuable skill during and after your apprenticeship. You never know when a former colleague may be able to refer you to an employer in the future! Just because they’re your manager doesn’t mean you can’t grab a drink after work together - plus work is a lot more enjoyable when you feel part of a team.
4. Not every role is going to be your ‘perfect role’
If you’re not enjoying your role - tell your manager or your personal mentor as there may be scope to adjust your role to something more suited to your skills and interests. However, don’t feel deflated, learning what roles, cultures, companies you’re not suited to is just as valuable as learning what roles you are suited to as it will aid decisions after your apprenticeship!
5. Ask for help!
You’re an apprentice; the whole point of this scheme is for you to learn. Don’t feel like you have to be an ‘expert’ like your colleagues may appear to be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they seem silly! Your colleagues will understand that you will have no previous experience, and they’d rather you ask questions and get it right than be too embarrassed to ask and get it wrong!
Being a degree apprentice is a really exciting opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the workplace and build up your soft and hard skills. Make the most of every opportunity, because it will fly by, and always remember the end goal is to build up a CV rich in skills, so take any opportunity that will make you stand out to future employers!
For more information about Pearson College London’s degree apprenticeship programmes, visit the website.