Five Biggest Mistakes Apprentices Make When They Start a Job

May 30, 2012
Natasha Tyrrell
An apprentice working

Working apprentice

An apprentice has two major goals when beginning an apprenticeship: to learn everything possible about the trade and to impress his or her employers. A combination of both can result in a great career opportunity once the apprenticeship is complete. However, not all apprenticeships start smoothly, with many apprentices having to learn a few lessons the hard way.

Unfortunately, there aren't any do-overs when it comes to your apprenticeship. You have one chance to make a good impression-blow that chance and you may harm your chance of landing a job with not only that business but other businesses in your area. Here are five of the biggest mistakes apprentices make in their early days on the job. Avoid these mistakes and you'll be on your way to a successful apprenticeship.

  • Unreliability. Showing up late for your shift, disappearing for minutes at a time, and falling through on assigned tasks are surefire ways to show you're not the best person for the apprenticeship. In fact, you may end up being fired from your apprenticeship, forfeiting any school credit you would get for the term and losing the opportunity to add an important credit to your sum.
  • Refusal of grunt work. We get it. You have a certain level of education and feel you should be able to jump right in to doing the important work. In your early days on the job, you may be asked to carry ladders, load up the truck, and even fetch food for your co-workers. Complaining and exhibiting a chip on your shoulder will show you're not a team player, possibly exempting you for consideration as a permanent part of the team.
  • Engage in trash talk. This isn't high school and, no matter how long your apprenticeship lasts, you aren't part of the group. Gossiping is unprofessional and frowned upon. Even if your boss asks what you think of a co-worker or a certain situation, always try to put on a positive face even when you can't think of a single positive thing to say.
  • Be a clock-watcher. Lunch is the most important hour of the day, right? And after lunch, all that's left is to count down to quitting time. Successful apprentices don't live and die by the time clock and the worst possible thing you can do is leave an important job for a break.
  • Be a know-it-all. Have you ever tried to teach someone who refuses to be taught? You're there to learn, not the other way around. If your employer has to constantly pause during instruction to listen to you explain how much you know about everything, you'll have an exasperated employer. Stop trying to impress everyone and let them teach you a few things. You'll find that your employer is more impressed by your eagerness to learn than your showy comments about how much you know about everything.

For a successful apprenticeship, the most important thing is to relax and be yourself. You'll find things get easier as your apprenticeship progresses, but by listening and being a conscientious worker, you'll find your apprenticeship moving along smoothly.


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